Restive residents of Elaka Sutnga, East Jaintia Hills under the banner of the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) on Monday took to the streets for the second time to vent out their anger against the illegal mushrooming of Coke Factory.
The ECC with the support of local Headmen (Waheh Shnong) of the Elaka served an ultimatum to all the concerned regulatory authority/authorities to close down all coke oven plants (Irrespective of CTEs or CTOs) within 5 (five) days with immediate effect and to take necessary action against the proprietors for the irreparable loss that have been caused to the environment and life of the people.
People from the nook and corner of Elaka Sutnga thronged the streets to protest against the alleged illegal coke factory in East Jaintia Hills flouting all COVID-19 norms and protocol.
The residents were peeved with the steps and initiative that the district administration has been taken and does not meet the demand of ECC to close down all the coke plants in the Elaka Sutnga.
They asserted that these plants emitting dangerous gases and particulate matter which are beyond the permissible limit. These coke plants taking advantage of the CTO that they emit smoke and pollution into the atmosphere without considering the serious impact on the ecology. It is also found that wherever this smoke passes through the trees or forest becoming reddish and dying.
This phenomenal condition can be seen clearly at Umpleng, Nongjri Nongshning, Umtyra, because there are some plants that have been granted with CTOs.
During the public rally in Moopala and march protest from Shikilo to DC Office, Khliehriat the residents raised slogans against the government and the administration for failing to act against the illegal coke factory.
In a memorandum submitted to Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills Environment Coordination Committee Elaka Sutnga supported by Local Headmen (Rangbah Shnong) of the ElakaSutnga comprises of villages viz., Moopala, Sookilo, Sutnga, Umlawang, Mookympad, Tluh, Jarain, Sakhain, SakhianMooliment, Latyrke, Lamyrsiang, Moolamylliang, Lelad, Tangnub, Byndehati, Umtyra, Umrangso, Nongrim Hills, Nongsning, JalaphetBri-Sutnga, MoolaitBri-Sutnga and others adjacent village informed that these coke plants who have obtained only CTO, it is found they have not granted with other mandatory regulatory certificate or clearance from the concerned authorities. May be referred to the term and conditions provided in the Single Window Agency (SWA). No objection Certificate (NOC) JHADC, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the Elaka. CTE and CTO from the MSPCB and many more.
The ECC said that they filed a complaint to the deputy commissioner on 23-06-2021, till date the complainant has never been accessed or received the status proceeding from your office under the purview of Section 133 CrPC.
“Establishment of Hazardous industries in and near the human inhabitation area can never be permitted as per the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Coke industries is categorized in the First Schedule item 4 of the Factories Act as hazardous process factories. The right to Pollution free environment has been declared as the right to life under the purview of Article 21 of the Constitution by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Coke plants have a devastating both short- and long-term impact on the environment,” read the memorandum.
The memorandum read “..as per the Factories Act, 1948, The District Magistrate shall be the Inspector for his district. As per the information available, no action or intervention has been taken by your office as the power vested under this Act.
That it is found that all the 31 (Thirty-One) numbers of the Coke plants as provided from your office which has applied for Consent to Establish and waiting for approval for which they have already established without prior permission from the consent regulatory department/board. However, no action has been taken despite the proprietors have grossly violated the Water and Air Act. This is not a mere allegation as the Senior Environment Engineer (SEE) himself from the MSPCB on 22/06/2021 came for inspection. The member of the ECC was very much present along with the official, where it was found many as up to 40 (Forty) Coke plants have been established without CTE.”
The ECC alleged that it is found even after the protest and objection from the public at large for establishment of the coke plants, the coke plants have continued to operate and consent have been granted despite violating the Air and Water Acts.
The ECC said that the coke factory’s continue heating for more than 4 months is not acceptable and has never been found in any information provided or in any rule and regulation as the part and partial for the process to obtain CTO.
“Many of these plants found establishing near the villages without obtaining public consent or NOC from the directly affected villages or habitation villages and all these coke plants are establishing in a cluster manner and have never been obtained Environment Clearance. As per the rules available, this cluster has to obtain EC from the state Environment Impact Assessment (SEIAA),” the ECC said.
The ECC added there is a rampant issuing of the Environment Clearance from the office of the Chief Forest Officer (CFO) JHADC without proper examines and survey prior for granting the said clearance. This act and malfunctioning of the office of the CFO have put the life and future of the indigenous people of Elaka in peril.