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Public hearing at East Jaintia Hills village approves Topcem plant’s expansion despite protest

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Shillong, Aug 24: Despite a stand-off between police and protestors which comprised mainly of pressure groups of East Jaintia Hills, the public hearing at Lumshnong village for the proposed expansion of M/s Meghalaya Cement Ltd (Topcem) was successful.

Protestors from Narpuh Elaka tried to storm into the Topcem community hall where the environmental public hearing was going on, resulting in injuries to several protestors and policemen. Pressure groups such as HANM, KSU Narpuh Circle and others were part of the protestors at Thangskai to oppose this environmental public hearing which was conducted by Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB). To maintain the crowd, the police had to fire tear gas shells and lathi-charge the protestors.

MCL-ko apalbatatna MSPCB-ni public hearing-ko ong·atani salo golmal aro so·so-jengjengona sokanga

The hearing was to seek the support of the local villages to expand the Meghalaya Cements Limited (Topcem) production from 2600 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) upto 4,500 TPD. Despite the protest outside the hall, the public hearing eventually passed the proposal. Among those who supported were the Waheh Chnong of these three villages under Narpuh Elaka – Wahiajer, Thangskai and Chiehruphi.

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The protestors claimed that there has been no job opportunities or development brought in by these cement plants and that it has caused pollution and illness to the people.

However, other residents of Narpuh disagreed stating that the job opportunities have increased and that Topcem has brought in a lot of development to their villages.

Senior vice president of Meghalaya Cements Limited (Topcem), Vikash Saraf, mentioned that there were only a few people from nearby villages with malafide interest to create chaos and give an impression that the people are against it.

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“Everyone is in support of Topcem because we support them in their needs. We have made roads for them, we have made them streetlights, we have made them churches, now we have given them lots of employment… even on our technical posts they are appointed; we have NOCs from all the villages nearby, we have Elaka NOC also, we have Doloi NOC also, so people at large are supporting us,” he said.

Also Read: Tear gas shelling, lathi charge in East Jaintia Hills during public hearing for cement plant’s expansion

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