India: Lafarge gets support from Nongtrai village

India: Lafarge gets support from Nongtrai village
Published: 14 October 2010

The traditional council of the village where the limestone mining project of Lafarge is located in Meghalaya, India has spoken in favour of the French cement giant. They presented their take on the issue stating that the suspension of mining operation will affect the local population in every possible way, according reports published in a number of Indian newspapers.

In a court affidavit filed at the court on October 5, 2010, the head of Nongtrai Village Durbar B L Lyngdoh said that the arrival of Lafarge in their area has opened up employment opportunities along with many other benefits and assistance. The affidavit countered the claims of Shella Action Committee, the organisation whose primal objection spawned the whole affair.

A clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest has been sought by the Supreme Court taking into account the charges of Shella Action Committee that limestone was being mined in the forest areas and the environmental clearance was obtained fraudulently. A final verdict from the court, which had halted the mining operations of Lafarge from February last, is awaited.

The counter affidavit stated, "The project has not resulted in diversion of agricultural land. In fact no cultivations are possible in the mining area due to the rocky nature of the soil. The Shella Action Committee does not represent the local people. They are not even residents of the area." Lyngdoh, the head of the village council said that the land where mining operations belonged to Nongtrai Village Durbar. He said that the application filed before the Supreme Court opposing the Lafarge operations were filed by vested groups which comprises of exporters whose business interests have been affected by the Lafarge project.

The affidavit also states that the opposing party consists of limestone exporters who used to export limestone to Bangladesh without sharing any benefits with the locals. On the other hand, Lafarge pays a royalty fee which resulted a total amount of 3.15 crore Indian Rupee for the whole village and 1.4 lakh for each household, until December 2009.