Supreme Court insists on EIA, bars Lafarge from mining in Meghalaya

In a setback to the French cement multinational Lafarge, the Supreme Court on Monday declined permission to the company for its limestone mining operations in Meghalaya forests.

The company has been asked to obtain a fresh environment impact assessment (EIA) clearance for the project. The limestone to be mined is meant for the company's cement plant in Bangladesh.

''We will not give permission without EIA. If this court has not allowed anyone to do mining without EIA, why would you (get a different treatment)?'' a forest bench comprising chief justice of India, K G Balakrishnan, and justices, S H Kapadia and Aftab Alam, said.

Rejecting attorney-general G E Vahanvati's request for giving the green signal to the company to carry out mining till the EIA was completed, the court said the company would not be allowed to mine limestone without getting EIA clearance based on the Central Empowered Committee's new guidelines.

Vahanvati had sought the court's clearance to the French company for resumption of mining operations in Meghalaya. He contended that if the operations were not resumed it would strain India - Bangladesh diplomatic ties since the Indian government had committed limestone supply to Bangladesh, he said. His contention was, however, not granted by the court.

The court also directed the attorney general to submit a proposal by the next date of hearing (9 April) regarding the modalities for completion of the EIA as also the conditions the government would like to impose on Lafarge on the lines of the 'Sterlite judgment'.