Eight cement companies in trouble for violation of forest act
A committee has been formed by Meghalaya government to inquire about complaints against eight cement companies for violating the forest conservation act. It has been reported that very large-scale clearing/deforestation/breaking of non-recorded and non-notified natural forests has been taking place in Jaintia Hills district. This is been done for establishing/operating limestone mining/cement plants on the strength of faulty, vague and subservient certificates being issued by state government officials, a letter from the North Eastern Regional Office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Centre said. "It is amazing to know that not even a single cement plant of Meghalaya, mostly in Jaintia Hills district, has sought statutory prior approval of Central government whereas about 8-10 of such operating plants are in possession of more than 1,000 ha of land which can only be categorised as deemed forests," the complaint, a copy of which was communicated to the state government, said. Chief Conservator Forests of the MOEF regional office BN Jha said the state government was not paying any heed despite repeated requests from his office to stop immediately such operations by the cement companies who claimed to have got necessary clearances from the state government.
According to the complaint, the MoEF regional office also conducted site visits and "found large chunks of hills, and other lands bearing virgin and good natural vegetation cover being leased/transferred/sold to cement companies/existing cement companies/upcoming plants and they are using thousands of hectares of deemed forest land for various non-forest purposes."