SHILLONG, Nov 19: The Meghalaya High Court today rejected a petition filed against the State government challenging a public hearing scheduled on November 21, at the campus of Deputy Commissioner Office, East Jaintia Hills District, Khliehriat.
The public hearing is with regards to the proposed Limestone and Shale Mining Project over an area of 42.051 Ha. at Brishyrnot, East Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya by M/S Star Cement Meghalaya Limited.
The petition was filed by one Shanialang Suchen who challenged the holding of public hearing in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills District and that only 100 people have been allowed to participate in the public hearing. He prayed to the Court for staying the holding of public hearing on November 21.
In response the State’s Advocate General, Amit Kumar informed the Court that the public hearing for the said mine was earlier attempted on October 19 and 30 but due to unruly crowd the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills on both the occasions had to postpone the public hearing.
Kumar informed the Court that the Public Notice dated October 16 published by MSPCB (state’s pollution control board) and the proposed public hearing on November 21 is strictly in conformity with the letters dated June 18 this year and guidelines dated September 14 and with the express consent and direction of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and is strictly as per the procedure as enumerated in the EIA Notification, 2006.
The Advocate General also informed the Court that the petitioner should attend the public hearing and submit his objections/suggestions in the public hearing itself.
He further informed the Court that if the total number of persons exceeds 100 then next batch of 100 persons would be allowed to participate in the public hearing which will be held on the same day and at the same venue after completion of first public hearing.
“So the number of people wanting to participate in the public hearing is in the batches of 100 persons and not restricted to 100 persons only,” Kumar told the High Court.
The High Court pointed out that as far as public representation is concerned, if there are more than 100 people who wanted to be heard, there is always a provision for further and subsequent hearings and as such, the cause of the residents of the affected village will be addressed in due course.
The High Court after hearing the at length the submissions advanced by all the parties rejected the petition finding no substance in the case.