Ban on Lafarge continues

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Monday 31 May 2010

On April 26, the Supreme Court of India rejected the forest clearance the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests granted to French cement company Lafarge to resume mining in Meghalaya. The bench also turned down Attorney General G E Vahan-vati’s plea to let Lafarge mine for the sake of India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. Till the case is heard next in July, the court’s February 5 stay on mining would continue (see ‘SC upholds mining ban on Lafarge’, Down To Earth, April 16-30, 2010).

The company would now have to submit a comprehensive environment report, taking into account four conditions mentioned in the report by the environment ministry expert committee, which conducted a study in the mining area in early April.

These four conditions, different from 31 conditions the ministry has imposed, include a comprehensive bio-engineering plan of the area and a biodiversity conservation plan. But amicus curiae Harish Salve told the apex court that the committee had ‘hurriedly’ surveyed the mining area—in two days—and that a detailed survey is required. While granting clearance, the ministry told Lafarge that the clearance would not change the legal status of the forestland; permission would be needed to fell trees. Lafarge was also asked to arrange for alternative fuel for labourers at the site to avoid tree felling. Lafarge said it is confident of meeting the conditions.

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