New Delhi: The union government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) told the Supreme Court on Friday that Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt Ltd (LUMPL) did not deceive the government in its attempts to obtain environmental clearances for mining limestone in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills.
The government came out in support of Lafarge on the basis of new documents presented to the court by Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati.
This is in contrast to the stance taken by amicus curiae Harish Salve in previous hearings, where he argued that Lafarge had violated environmental laws and hidden crucial documents from the government in its bid to get the permissions to mine.
LUMPL is a 100% subsidiary of Lafarge Surma of Bangladesh, which operates a $255 million (Rs.1,155 crore), 1.2 million tonnes per annum cement plant at Chhatak, across the border from India. However, no limestone is currently being sent across since the apex court stopped the mining a year ago based on a petition filed from 21 tribal people.
Vahanvati said the government was not immediately ready to argue the issue of whether India was obligated to supply limestone to Lafarge’s Bangladesh unit. On 15 January, Salve submitted the promise to Bangladesh was not in respect of Lafarge’s cement plant.