The Supreme Court has refused to hear French cement company Lafarge''s plea
to allow export of limestone from its mines in Meghalaya to the company''s plant
special bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan instead asked the multinational
to make a representation to the court-appointed amicus curie Harish Salve, who
will examine the issue and submit his opinion on 16 November, the next date of
SA, the world''s biggest cement maker, had challenged an order of the ministry
of environment and forests issued in May this year asking the company to stop
work at quarries in forest areas where it is not permitted.
Lafarge said it had stopped mining activities since the court order on 20 October,
the company is seeking permission to immediately transport 600,000 tonnes of limestone,
a key input for making cement, to its plant in Bangladesh.
Supreme Court had, on 20 October, ordered a temporary halt to operations at Lafarge''s
limestone extracting plant in Meghalaya. The court shut down operations at the
Lafarge factory for four weeks till a complete probe was done after a CNN-IBN''s
special investigation exposed how the cement factory located in Cherapunjee was
not only operating illegally, but also flouting all environment laws misbalancing
the state''s ecology.
investigation showed how Lafarge was extracting limestone from prime forests with
documents categorising some of India''s best forests as wasteland.
government had earlier allowed it to take limestone to Bangladesh over a 17-km-long
conveyor belt, and the sudden reversal of its stand had rendered its plant non-operational,
the company''s counsel said.
said the empowered committee of the central government had asked the company to
pay a penalty of Rs35 crore for violation of mining laws.
said the ministry''s order amounted to putting an end to supply of raw material
to its $255 million Lafarge Surma Cement Project at Chhatak, Sunamganj, in Bangladesh,
as it was fully dependent on limestone extracted from East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya.
also filed an application under the forest protection Act seeking permission for
non-forest activity in the forest area.
company has stopped its work at the quarries but it should be permitted to transport
around 600,000 tonnes of already extracted limestone as the same would get spoiled
due to rain," the company''s counsel said.
the central empowered committee (CEC) had sought permission to file an ''environment
cost benefit analysis'' on degradation of environment and forests by mining companies,
including Lafarge. However, it didn''t file the report suggesting imposition of
penalty on companies for destroying India''s forest cover.