The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) has served a fresh violation notice to the producer of Topcem Cement, and may order suspension of limestone mining in South Khliehjri mine if the ‘violations’ are not rectified immediately.

Vikash Kumar, Assistant Controller of Mines of IBM, on February 4, served a violation notice to Kailash Chandra Lohia, the chairman of Meghalaya Cements Ltd, the producer of Topcem Cement brand.

The IBM officials, on December 15, 2020, had inspected Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone mine near Thangskai in East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya.

After the inspection, the IBM officials found the producer of Topcem Cement of violating Rule 11 (1) of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017.

The IBM notice to Kailash Chandra Lohia said the violations constitute an offence punishable under Rule 62 of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017.

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Punishment under Rule 62 of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017 is imprisonment, which may extend up to two years, or fine, which may extend to Rs 5 lakhs. And in case of continuing contravention, there would be an additional fine of Rs 50,000 daily.

The IBM violation notice said while Mining Plan of Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri Limestone mine was proposed to produce 15,61,416 tons of limestone during 2019-20, it was found that the production was 9,86,282 tones, which is about 60 percent of the proposal.

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The IBM violation notice informed Kailash Chandra Lohia that mining operations at South Khliehjri Limestone mine can be suspended under Rule 11(2) if compliance of Rule 11(1) is not found satisfactory.

Kailash Chandra Lohia was strictly instructed to rectify the violation by Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri Limestone mine within 45 days from the date of issue of the violation notice.

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Despite repeated attempts, Kailash Chandra Lohia was not available for comments on IBM’s violation notice served on Topcem Cement.

When contacted, Abhishek Chakraborty, assistant general manager of Topcem Cement told Northeast Now that he is not aware of the IBM violation notice served to Kailash Chandra Lohia.

Earlier, the IBM had also rejected the ‘review application’ of Topcem Cement’s Mining Plan for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Also read: Topcem Cement shamelessly displays ISO 50001:2011 certificate even after expiry

It was also found that both the Surface Plan and Environment Plan of Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone did not match with the final Land Use Data submitted in KML format.

The Indian Bureau of Mines turning down Topcem Cement’s ‘review application’ of the Mining plan is likely to be a big blow to the company, which has embarked on a plan to expand its production capacity by a whopping 110.75 percent.

Topcem Cement has proposed to expand production capacity from 2,600 tons per day (TPD) to 2 million tons per annum (MTPA).

Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) has also ‘disapproved’ the ‘Mine Closure Plan’ for Moiong Block I Limestone mine of Topcem Cement after discrepancies were reported in the ‘Surface Plan’.

The discrepancies were seen near Pillar no. 9 along the line P8 to P9 towards the South portion of the Moiong Block I limestone mine of Topcem Cement.

The IBM also found that the ‘Environment Plan’ of Topcem Cement’s Moiong Block I limestone mine was completely different from the ‘Environment Plan’ submitted on April 2, 2020 along the like P3 to P8 towards the South West portion for a perimeter length of about 350 metres.

In addition to Topcem Cement’s Moiong Block I, the Indian Bureau of Mines did not approve the Progressive Mine Closure Plan of the South Khliehjri limestone mine.

The Indian Bureau of Mines gave two reasons for not approving the Progress Mine Closure Plan of Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone mine.

Firstly, it was found that the mining lease boundary description of Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone mine did not match with the surface geological plan of the mine.

Secondly, the Indian Bureau of Mines found a disparity between the surface features (along with safety zones) and surface geological plan of Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone mine.

The Indian Bureau of Mines found discrepancies between boundary pillar SKM 54 to SKM 65 at Topcem Cement’s South Khliehjri limestone mine in the East Jaintia hills district.

Mine closure is an important aspect of modern-day mining across the globe. It aims to restore physical, chemical and biological quality disturbed by the mining to a level acceptable to all concerned.

The mine lessees should leave the area in such a way that rehabilitation does not become a burden to the society after mining operation is over. It must also aim to create a self-sustained ecosystem.

In fact, the mine closure operation is a continuous series of activities starting from day one of the initiation of mining project. And, progressive mine closure plan is reviewed every five years in the Scheme of Mining.

The final mine closure plan, as per statute, should have its approval at least nine months before the date of the proposed closure of mine.

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