Meghalaya government to set up technical committee on coke plants
The technical committee comprising of experts will undertake a comprehensive study of aspects related to coke plants in the state and suggest specific recommendations including environment safeguard measures, public health issues, forest clearances, cluster situation and commissioning of pollution load study, said James Sangma.
Meghalaya Forest and Environment Minister, James Sangma informed that the ministry will set up a technical committee to undertake a comprehensive study of aspects related to setting up and functioning of coke plants in the state.
Replying to Zero Hour notice moved by Congress MLA Process T. Sawkmie during the Meghalaya Assembly autumn session on Tuesday, Sangma said that the decision was taken on August 10 after consultation with officials of State Pollution Control Board and State Expert Appraisal Committee.
“The technical committee comprising of experts will undertake a comprehensive study of aspects related to coke plants in the state and suggest specific recommendations including environment safeguard measures, public health issues, forest clearances, cluster situation and commissioning of pollution load study,” he said.
The district administration and Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) have taken swift action to close down all coke plants without valid documents, Sangma informed.
“MSPCB has identified 30 coke plants without consent in East Jaintia Hills and closure notices have been served to them for violation of Section 25 of Water Act, 1974 and Section 21 of Air Act, 1981,” he said.
The Minister also added that the Superintendent of Police has registered a total of seven cases against coke plants which are allegedly operating without a Consent To Operate (CTO) approval.
Sangma said that coke plants with CTO are currently operating and those with Consent To Establish (CTE) are allowed to heat their furnace which is part of the CTE, whereas all other coke plants having no CTO and CTE have suspended their activities if they have been found to have started construction.
Sangma informed that as per the environmental impact assessment (EIA) Notification 2006, coke plants under Category A with a production capacity of 2,50,000 MT per annum and above requires environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and coke plants under category B with a production capacity of 25,000 MT to 2,50,000 MT per annum requires environmental clearance from State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.
“Therefore, the coke plants with a production capacity of less than 25,000 MT per annum does not fall within the regulation of EIA notification,” he said.
The State Pollution Control Board has notified sitting norms on December 23, 2020 to control the ambient air quality of the surrounding area and as per the sitting norms, stand-alone coke plants should operate 1 km away from human habitation, 500 m from PWD roads and 100 m from rivers/streams/lakes.
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