Assembly Committee wants halt of illegal coke factories

Shillong, Jul 31: The Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Environment asked the government to stop eight coke factories operating illegally in West Khasi Hills district.

Chairman Assembly Committee on Environment, S. K. Sunn said coke factories are under “red zone” categories and setting up of a unit requires compliance to environment from the state pollution control board after which they can go for civil construction and other infrastructure.

“After this, authorities will inspect the infrastructure and after they are satisfied will give consent to operate for three months after which another inspection will be conducted wherein the pollution board will take samples of air, water and other elements which will be taken to the lab for testing,” he said.

Sunn also proposed “zoning atlas” so that it could be beneficial to detect and regulate setting up of industries both legal and illegal.

The assembly committee also discussed air pollution caused by cement plants in Jaiñtia Hills region.

The state pollution board told the committee that there is tendency of smoke emission at higher level since the cement factories had started functioning after remaining closed for many months due to the lockdown.

Congress legislator and Member of Assembly Committee on Environment, Himalaya Muktan Shangpliang said that the eight coke factories were set up in the last six to eight months without the consent of the district administration.

“The owners of these eight coke factories did not even come for the hearing called by the Additional Deputy Commissioner of West Khasi Hills district which proves they were illegally running without papers,” Shangpliang said.

Stating that 18 such coke factories have been set up in West Khasi Hills through single window clearance since August 2018, the panel member said, “The committee has viewed the matter seriously and the presence of coke factories has caused lot of health hazard in Shallang belt.”

However, the committee has allowed the functioning of seven coke factories who furnished valid documents and certificates from the state pollution control board.

The committee suggested that the central and state pollution board would visit and examine these industries and suggest measures to improve emission of smoke from them, Shangpliang said.