21 coke factories detected in Meghalaya, four legal & 17 illegal
By Ibankyntiew Mawrie | SHILLONG:
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, on Monday, informed the House during the ongoing Budget Session that all the illegal coke factories have been closed down and that they issued the closure notices on August 15, 2020.
Responding to question raised by Congress legislators Himalaya Shangpliang and George Lyngdoh, Sangma said that a joint inspection was carried out on January 15 by the concerned authorities and based on the report submitted by the team, it was confirmed that illegal coke factories are operating in West Khasi Hills district.
“All illegal factories are closed. We detected 21 coke factories out of which four are legal, and 17 are illegal,” Sangma said.
He further informed that out of the 17 illegal coke factories, 10 received single-window clearances and are awaiting Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) under the Air & Water Act.
“Seven others are completely illegal,” he said.
Responding to questions raised by Umroi MLA George Lyngdoh, Sangma said the coal used in the legal factories was ‘legally’ transported from Assam and West Bengal and through coal auctions by the State Government.
“With proper clearances from Single Window Agency and the Pollution Control Board, the legal factories can get the coal from anywhere in the country,” Sangma said.
He also informed the House of the ongoing trials in the District Court against the illegal coke factories in Shallang, West Khasi Hills.
On being asked whether dismantling the illegal structures would send a powerful message against the setting up of such factories, Sangma stated that the government is acting as per the law.
“There is a procedure that the government has to follow, and based on provisions and penalties under the Air and Water Act, the same will be initiated accordingly,” he said.
In response to a question raised by Mawphlang MLA SK Sunn on coke factories falling under the ‘red category’, Sangma said there are certain norms set by the Air and Water Act that the government must adhere to while granting permission for setting up of industries falling under the ‘red category’.
“Coke factories indeed fall under the red category, but we need to go ahead with industrialisation, and we must do the same as per norms. It is all about balancing economy and ecology,” Sangma said.
Meanwhile, East Shillong legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh sought an assurance from the government to provide a report on the tracing of coal used in coke factories.
Responding to this, Sangma stated he could not commit to table the report during the ongoing session because of insufficient time. However, Sangma said he would review the matter.
(Edited by Andre Kongri)