Probe against Lafarge Surma land acquisition and quarrying operations

Probe against Lafarge Surma land acquisition and quarrying operations
23 April 2014

The Indian Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) is assessing a complaint filed against Lafarge Surma Cement's land acquisition and limestone quarrying operations in Meghalaya, India.

Lafarge Surma Cement, a joint venture between Lafarge and Cementos Molins of Spain, operates a 1.6Mta plant at Chhatak, Bangladesh. Due to the country’s lack of limestone deposits, the Chaatak plant is a cross-border facility with a captive limestone mined located at Meghalaya, India, from where limestone is transported by a 17km conveyor belt.

CAO, an independent recourse mechanism for projects supported by the World Bank Group, said a complaint was filed by a number of individuals in the state on the Indian side of the Lafarge Bangladesh project in January last year.

"CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in January 2014 and has begun conversations with the key parties ... An assessment of the case is ongoing," CAO said.

The International Finance Corp, the World Bank arm, partly financed a project with Lafarge Surma Cement for the construction and operation of an integrated cement plant in Bangladesh which is very close to the border with Meghalaya, from where the limestone is sourced.

"The complaint raises concerns about the legitimacy of the land acquisition and use process for the project's limestone quarrying operation close to the villages of Shella and Tynger in Meghalaya," the CAO said. The complainants further state that Khasi indigenous people have been deprived of their land, their livelihood has been impacted, and their customary land rights and systems have not been respected, it added. (Source: Business Standard)

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