Shillong: In a major development in the fight against illegal coke plants in Meghalaya, National Green Tribunal (NGT) listed the case for hearing on December 9 and has set January 31, 2022, as the next hearing, giving the respondents four weeks’ time.

Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) legal adviser Reading War shared that they had submitted a petition before the NGT regarding coke plants in Elaka Sutnga, East Jaintia Hills District on October 25. The same was then admitted and listed for December 9.

The petition impleads six respondents – Government of Meghalaya, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB), Deputy Commissioner, State Environment impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Ministry of environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC).

“This is a strong message from the ECC to the state government that this is only the start of our legal proceeding. That in the near future, the ECC will also seek intervention from the IT department as per documents available with it. There are hundreds of crores in tax evasion under the shadow of the local tribal by the non tribal. In this one district alone, there are 41 coke plants owned by non-tribals,” War said.

Adding that they will not be hesitant to move the Supreme Court, War said the ECC has found there was no proper verification/scrutinized by the Single Window Agency (SWA) before granting SWA approval to the project proponents. The Department of Commerce and Industries has randomly issued SWA approvals.

The ECC has also shown its disappointment with the government concerning the expert committee that was constituted to look into these illegal coke factories but till date no action or steps have been taken.

“This is a matter of serious issue and postponing the matter will cause irreparable damage to the public,” said War.

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