Shillong: Meghalaya Forest and Environment Minister, James Sangma on Tuesday said that the government has decided to set up a technical committee comprising of experts to undertake a comprehensive study of aspects related to the coke factories, even as he assured that coke plants who are operating without valid documents would be close down.
Replying to a Zero Hour Notice regarding the protest against pollution from coke factories in East Jaintia Hills moved by Congress legislator Process T Sawkmie in the Assembly, Sangma said that the technical committee has been asked to also suggest specific recommendations including environment safeguard measures, public health issues, forest clearances, cluster situation and commissioning of pollution load study.
He also informed the House that the district administration of East Jaintia Hills has assured and issued order on August 3, last to close down all coke plants who are operating without valid documents in the district.
Moreover, he said the Deputy Commissioner had filed an FIR against the coke plants for violating the order of the district administration after the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) Elaka Sutnga had informed him about the illegal coke factories.
Sangma said a total of seven cases have been registered against those coke plants who are alleged to operate without a Consent to Operate (CTO).
“As of now, only coke plants with CTO are currently operating and those with Consent to Establish (CTE) are allowed to heat their furnaces which is part of the consent to establish whereas, all other coke plants having no CTO and CTE have suspended their activities if they have been found to have started construction,” the Forest and Environment minister said.
Sangma said the situation is being closely monitored by the district administration after the closure notices were issued, inspection was carried out by Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) on August 27, August 31 and September 2.
During the inspection, he said it was found that 24 coke plants were found to be closed down and one unit was operating in violation of closure notice.
Assuring that the MSPCB will initiate action against coke plant for violating closure notice and case will register under relevant law, Sangma informed five coke plants which have been issued closure notices on September 6, verification of closure notices will be done.