The Meghalaya Cements Limited, which sells its cement under the brand name Topcem Cement, has been selling every bag to the tribal population of Meghalaya at a ‘higher price’.
A survey by Northeast Now team in different locations in Assam and Meghalaya showed that people in Shillong and Jowai are paying Rs 40 to 60 more for every bag of Topcem Cement they buy.
Price of a bag of Topcem Cement in Assam ranged between Rs 390 to Rs 420, while the cost was Rs 440 to 450 in Meghalaya.
While Topcem Cement has been extracting huge quantity of limestone from the South Khliehjri Limestone mine in East Jaintia hills, the local people of Meghalaya are not benefitting anything.
While large-scale extraction of limestone by Topcem Cement from the South Khliehjri Limestone mine has long term brunt on the ecology of East Jaintia hills district, the local tribal population have not been compensated for it.
The company also has its subsidiary — Topcem India LLP (earlier Topcem India Limited), which has a crusher unit at Gauripur in Assam’s Kamrup district.
Topcem India LLP produces cement from clinkers produced by the Meghalaya Cements Limited’s integrated cement plant at Thangskai in East Jaintia Hill district in Meghalaya.
Despite extracting natural resources of the tribal population of Meghalaya, and enjoying all the benefits under the North East Industrial & Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), Topcem Cement has not shied away from charging ‘extra money’ for sale of every bag in Meghalaya.
Treibor Suchen, president of the Jaintia Students Union said it is unfortunate that the cement companies don’t do anything good for the people of the area.
“We did not know that people of Meghalaya are paying more money for every bags of cement they buy,” Suchen said, adding that they would visit Lumshnong area next week for an on-the-spot verification on the price issue.
The Jaintia Students Union (JSU) has always been vocal against the aggressive limestone mining activities by the cement companies in East Jaintia hills district.
“We opposed the public hearing for expansion of limestone mining in Lumshnong. It is going to cause serious impact on the ecology,” Suchen said, adding that the issue of people of Meghalaya paying more money for cement is serious.
Anil Kapur, president of Topcem Cement, when contacted, agreed that there is a disparity in prices of cement in Meghalaya and Assam.
“The difference in the price is primarily because of logistics issue,” Kapur said, adding that there are several other factors responsible for the retail price differences of cement bags in Assam and Meghalaya.
In addition to the price disparity, the management of Topcem Cement has also been found failing in its ‘Environmental Compliances’.
The cement company failed to publish its ‘Environmental Compliance Statement’, which is a ‘mandatory obedience’ as per the MOEF&CC guidelines.
The management of Topcem Cement also failed to publish Stack Emission Monitoring and the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Results after September 2020.
And the cause of serious concern is that Topcem Cement management did not publish the Upstream and Downstream Water Analysis report of its South Khliehjri Limestone mine after September.