Shillong: While some look at the mushrooming of coke factories in Meghalaya as a way towards development, residents of East Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills District find themselves choking amid all the coking.

CHOKING AMID COKING: MEGHALAYA’S COKE FACTORIES LEAVE NO ROOM TO BREATHE

EM DOCUMENTARY gets you a ground report from East Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills districts to see the impact of these coke factories on the health of local residents and the environment. A foul-smelling blanket of black smoke is indeed the reality here. Watch here:

Setting up a coke factory requires acquiring documents and clearances from several departments. Over 48 coke factories operating in East Jaintia Hills are currently under the scanner. While some factories have been set up too close to each other, others seem to have violated all the norms put in place by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board.

What are Coke factories?

Coke is produced by heating coal at high temperatures for long periods of time through a process called “thermal distillation” or “pyrolysis.” Coal is usually thermally distilled for 15 to 18 hours, but the process can take up to 36 hours. The temperature of the ovens ranges between 900 and 1100 degrees Celsius.

Coking coal is a key raw material in steel production. As iron is found only as iron oxide in the Earth’s crust, the ore must be converted or ‘reduced’ using the carbon to be later used in steel production.

Globally, steel production nearly doubled between 1990 and 2010, when production reached 1,417 million metric tons. By 2020, the production of steel reached 1,864 million metric tons, with China and India contributing as the two top steel-producing nations. This also led to the mushrooming of smaller coking plants without any technical equipment for operation. Meghalaya has been a hotbed of this growth in recent years.

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