Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) has ‘disapproved’ Mine Closure Plans of Topcem Cement’s two limestone mines — Moing Block I and South Khliehjri in East Jaintia hills district.

The IBM, which is the national technical regulator for mines in India, has written to Kailash Chandra Lohia, chairman of Meghalaya Cements Ltd that the two Mine Closure Plans were ‘Not Approved’ on strong technical grounds.

Meghalaya Cements Ltd is one of the cement plants in East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya, and is the producer of the brand Topcem Cement.

The letter, bearing number IBM/GHY/MEG/JNH/LST/MS-55), informed that the ‘Mine Closure Plan’ for Moiong Block I Limestone mine of 4.8 hectare was ‘Not Approved’ because of two reasons.

Firstly, the Indian Bureau of Mines found discrepancies in the ‘Surface Plan’ of Topcem Cement’s Moiong Block I limestone mine.

Also read: Indian Bureau of Mines ‘disapproves’ Topcem Cement’s Mining Plan in East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya

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.

Secondly, the IBM 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 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.

Also read: Topcem Cement eyes 110.75% production ‘expansion’ amid opposition in Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya

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 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 proposed closure of mine.

Also read: Topcem selling cement with ‘expired’ license of Bureau of Indian Standards

In addition to the two Mine Closure Plans, the ‘review application’ of Meghalaya Cement’s Mining Plan for the period 2021-22 to 2015-26 for South Khliehjri limestone mine was also not approved.

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 Meghalaya Cement Ltd’s ‘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.

The Meghalaya Cements Ltd, which is the producer of Topcem Cement, has proposed to expand production capacity from 2,600 tons per day (TPD) to 2 million tons per annum (MTPA).

Earlier, the Indian Bureau of Mines served a show-cause notice to the producer of Topcem Cement.

Vikash Kumar, Assistant Controller of Mines of the Indian Bureau of Mines served the violation-cum-show-cause notice to Kailash Chandra Lohia, director of Meghalaya Cements Ltd for violating provisions of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017.

The show-cause notice held Kailash Chandra Lohia responsible for deviating from an earlier Mining Plan of the South Khliehjri limestone mine near Thangskai in East Jaintia hills district in Meghalaya.

Also read: Topcem Cement ‘looting’ indigenous tribal Khasi & Jaintia customers in Meghalaya

“…it is clearly observed that the mine benches have advanced towards the north-west side of the mining lease between Pillar I and Pillar 2, which is not as per the approved review of Mining Plan,” the show-cause notice, read.

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

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 per day.

The Indian Bureau of Mines had also pulled up R.K. Pareek, president of Topcem Cement for not employing Mines Manager and a Geologist at the South Khliehjri limestone mine.

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