SHILLONG, Jan 12 � Anti-graft activists of Meghalaya are up in arms against the State Government for colluding with cement companies in permitting these companies to operate in �thick� forest areas.
�The replies that we received from the various government agencies prove that they (government) knowingly gave consent to the cement plants to be set up there,� RTI activist and convenor of the Mait Shaphrang Movement (MSM) Michael N Syiem said at a public hearing held here today on the findings of the RTI.
Calling it �daylight� destruction of the environment in Jaintia Hills, the anti-graft activist said, �Despite the wanton destruction of our environment these cement companies are getting Central and State subsidies.�
Syiem also said that if these cement companies were to compensate for mining in forests areas the value would be much higher than what the Lafarge Umiam Private Limited paid.
In the Lafarge case, the Supreme Court, in its order dated April 12, 2010, had imposed certain conditions which were in addition to the conditions laid down by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. In that particular case, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Supreme Court not only stopped all mining activities there but also imposed penalties.
According to MSM, the findings indicted that various government agencies were hand in gloves with the cement companies in committing the crime. It was also found that all the eight cement companies were established in the thick forest areas.