The Supreme Court on Thursday posted the Shella Action Committee’s petition for a hearing along with that of Lafarge who is seeking approval to resume mining operations in Meghalaya. The matter is coming up for hearing on Friday.
The court on February 5 restrained Lafarge from continuing mining operations for extracting limestone in Meghalaya to manufacture cement at the Lafarge Surma Cement (LSC) project at Chhatak, Sunamganj, in Bangladesh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishan tagged the matter after senior consel PS Narasimha and Somiran Sharma, appearing for the registered voluntary agency claiming to represent the tribal people of the region, submitted that its PIL pending before the
Guwahati High Court is also related to Larfarge’s issue and the same should be transferred to the apex court.
The committee has challenged the validity of the sanction accorded for transfer of tribal land to Lum Mawshum Minerals, Lafarge Umiam Mining and Lafarge Surma Cement under the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act 1971. It said such sanction paved the way for unlawful dispossession of the lawful tribal owners from their lands in question and the same needed consideration for determining if the project was consistent with the principle of sustainable development.
The voluntary body has sought intervention on the ground that the mining activities carried by the companies violated the basic principle of sustainable development that "encompasses the welfare of the indigenous and tribal people of Shella village which is directly linked with the ownership rights of the indigenous and tribal people over their lands and their rights to exploit the natural resources."
It has alleged that Lafarge had obtained environmental clearance by misrepresenting to the Indian government that the land was a "wasteland and non-forest area consisting mainly of barren land, and rocks" whereas the area had dense forests.