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State administration appears to be complicit’: Meghalaya HC slams state Govt over illegal coke factories

First Published: 16th December, 2022 21:31 IST

Shut down all illegal coke factories except 4 which have appropriate approvals, the Court said in a strongly worded order

The Meghalaya High Court today (December 16) came down heavily on the Conrad Sangma-led Meghalaya government and accused the state administration of being “complicit” in the act of allowing the mushrooming of illegal coke factories in East Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills districts which is damaging the environment and becoming a major health concern for the people resulting in several ailments, polluting air and water bodies.

Hearing the Chief justice of Meghalaya High Court, Sanjib Banerjee and Chief Justice W. Diengdoh, Judge said, “It is distressing that the State administration appears to be complicit in the illegal functioning of coke plants in the State as is evident from the writ petition and a letter addressed by the Superintendent of Police, West Khasi Hills District to the Deputy Commissioner dated December 15, 2022, a copy whereof has been produced in Court by the State”.

According to the court, it now appears that the State government may have actively conspired with the operators of the illegal coke plants to circumvent orders passed by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal prohibiting the illegal establishment of coke plants in the state.

Citing the petitioners’ writ petition the Court said that there are over 60 coke making units in the West Khasi Hills District against the admitted position that only have been granted consent to operate. The four units are –Carbochem India, Shemphang Riangshiang, Rilangam Coke Industries and MD Coke Industries

“As per a spot inspection carried out by the Committee on Environment of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on August 18, 2020, at least 16 coke making units are operating without any permission from the appropriate authorities”, the Court said citing the inspection report. The Court has ordered the shutting down of all the units other than the four mentioned above.

“The Chief Secretary will file a compliance report with the Registrar-General by December 19, 2022, confirming such position,” the Court said in the strongly worded order.

Pulling up the Police, the Court said, “the Deputy Commissioner, West Khasi Hills along with the Superintendent of Police will show cause why appropriate action should be taken against such persons for failing to take steps against all coke making units operating in their jurisdiction without due authority”.

“All Deputy Commissioners and SPs in other districts should ensure that there is no coke making unit operating within their jurisdiction otherwise than upon obtaining due consent to operate, and for those units found to be operating illegally, all raw materials and finished products should be seized, and appropriate legal action should be taken against those in control of the units immediately,” said the court.

The Court has warned the state that if it fails to implement this order or any subsequent orders of Courts and Tribunals that are binding on it, “this Court will have to look to resources other than the State to enforce such orders”.

The Court further added that it is a matter of “crying shame” that the position continues, both pertaining to illegal coal mining and the functioning of unauthorised coke oven plants.

Also Read: Massive protests in East Jaintia Hills against illegal coke factories. Will the Govt meet the Court deadline?

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