Tribal people of Meghalaya, cutting across political affiliations, have launched a signature campaign to immediately stop Star Cement’s major expansion project in East Jaintia hills district.

Unhappy with the MoEF&CC’s decision to accord Environment Clearance to Star Cement for mining limestone and shale on a 42.05 Ha area at Brishyrnot village in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, people have resorted to the signature campaign.

The petition has been initiated by Kwilnis Suchiang, president of the Narpuh Circle of the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) on the change.org platform, and is addressed to Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Read the Petition: https://bit.ly/3xuJ0WS

The petition was initiated on change.org platform on Sunday afternoon, and has gone viral on social media platforms.

Nearly 1,500 people have already signed the petition, and claimed the Environment Clearance accorded to Star Cement is “illegal” as it has been processed without public hearing.

The petition claimed that the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) had tried to hold a public hearing three times, but had to abandon the formality following strong protests by the local tribal population.

The petition claimed Star Cement’s expansion project would cause ecological and environmental disaster in East Jaintia hills district.

Also read: Star Cement ‘Tayyar Nahi’ to face ‘controversy’ in Meghalaya expansion project

People of Meghalaya, who signed the petition, were surprised to see the 280 names in support of Star Cement’s project. Apparently, the support letters were signed by some unknown NGOs, without names or details of their president and secretary, and even the existence of the NGOs is highly questionable.

The petition said if Star Cement starts its mining project, it would drastically impact at least 15 villages in the surrounding areas.

Moreover, the proposed mining area is close to important river systems in far-east of Meghalaya, which are already polluted because of aggressive mining activities by the existing cement companies.

Moreover, the mining site is only 0.25 km from Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary’s Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ) and only 1.46 km from Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary and would be a major threat to the eco-system.

The Jaintia Students Union on Friday had registered two separate complaints with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and MoEF&CC against the Environment Clearance accorded to Star Cement.

Also read: Jaintia Students’ Union all set to register complaint with MoEF&CC against Star Cement’s Environment Clearance

The two complaints were sent to the Chairperson of NGT and the Director of Impact Assessment Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in New Delhi.

The JSU also described the Environment Clearance to Star Cement as “highly illegal” and said it violated the prescribed rules and norms.

“It is evident that the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board has usurped the rights of the local residents and groups and has forcefully suppressed the voices of the affected people,” the JSU had said in its complaint.

The JSU had also raised the point that the no-objection obtained from the local villagers is highly arbitrary, coerced and without the knowledge of the affected groups and the JSU, which represents a large population of the affected persons.

Also read: Jaintia Students’ Union writes to NGT and MoEF&CC against Environment Clearance accorded to Star Cement

The JSU demanded that the Environment Clearance issued to Star Cement be cancelled as per para 8 (vi) of the EIA, 2006 as the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board had submitted “false and misleading information” to the MoEF&CC.

Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in