Meghalaya: Environment body hails demolition of illegal coke plants

Meghalaya: The Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) of Elaka Sutnga in East Jaintia Hills has expressed relief over the demolition of several illegal coke plants in the state following an order by Meghalaya High Court.

Residents of Elaka Sutnga, under the banner of the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC), have been raising their voices against the mushrooming of ‘illegal’ coke factories in East Jaintia Hills district.

“The demolition of illegal coke plants is only the first step in what should be a long legal process to arrest the owners of such establishments and unearth how the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) had given permission to several of these to operate despite stringent public opposition,” the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) stated.

Notably, the demolition of the illegal coke plants is expected to be completed by July 20.

“The next step would be to find out how these coke plants had obtained Consent to Operate (CTO) permission from the state government from the ‘unprofessional and reckless’ officials of the MSPCB,” it said.

The ECC said that it is ready to assist the authorities concerned in unearthing the owners of the coke plants within East Jaiñtia Hills. It also claimed that many of these plants are operating under the benami practice.

The commission also found it shocking that the MSPCB has issued fresh CTE (consent to establish) to three new coke plants this year even as the legal battle to shut down other such plants was being taken up in courts.

According to ECC, the three plants were categorised as “erring units” last year and were fined but the MSPCB had legalised them.

The ECC demanded the state government to issue stay order over the operation of these coke plants and alleged that by issuing the CTE the government was not considerate to the wishes of the people.

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Meanwhile, a total of nine coke plants have been demolished so far. In East Jaintia Hills district, out of the 34 illegal coke plants, two were destroyed by the district administration during the demolition drive that began on Wednesday. Besides, seven out of 57 coke factories were demolished in Kyllonmathei area of Shallang by the West Khasi Hills district administration in the drive that began on July 7.

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