Meghalaya: NGT gives govt four weeks to respond to illegal coke factories in EJH
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on December 14, sought a reply from the state and central governments over the alleged setting up of several illegal coke factories in Sutnga Elaka in East Jaintia Hills.
The NGT, through an order passed on December 9, accordingly issued notice to five parties – the Meghalaya government, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB), Deputy Commissioner, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), and directed them to file counter-affidavits within four weeks.
The NGT’s directive to both the centre and the state comes following a petition filed by one Pynbait Sutnga on October 25, who alleged that several coke oven plants have been established in East Jaintia Hills that have violated environmental norms, causing serious harm to the people residing in the area.
Pynbait counsel, Vivek Singh, also submitted the Inspection Report of the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (dated 23.12.2020) along with the original application, informed that some of these coke plants are within 100-300 meters of human habitation.
Singh further informed that for clusters, the units should be located within a distance of 1 km from each other and the minimum distance from two clusters should be 5 km.
The bench meanwhile stated that “In our opinion, the matter requires consideration,”.
Besides the NGT, the Environment Co-ordination Committee (ECC) also issued a statement stating that this is only the start of legal proceedings and there will be many more to come into light as and when the matter is probed.
“As per documents available with the ECC, there are 41 coke plants in the district alone owned by the non-tribals, and there are many who have evaded taxes running in hundreds of crores under the name of tribals,” said the ECC.
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