Lafarge denies mining in Meghalaya despite court ban

March 20th, 2010 - 6:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, March 20 (IANS) Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited (LUMPL), a subsidiary of French firm Lafarge, Saturday dismissed a civil society group’s allegations that the company was ignoring the Supreme Court’s stay on mining in Meghalaya.
On Thursday, Shella Action Committee (SAC), a Meghalaya-based civil society group, accused Lafarge of carrying on with quarrying activities in Shella, bordering Bangladesh, some 100 km South from here.

LUML termed the allegations “unsubstantiated” and said, “There is nothing new in the allegations made by the SAC…they have been advocating against the continuation of the project on various fictitious grounds for a long time.”

According to an e-mailed statement issued here, Lafarge claimed: “Similar allegations made by the NGO in a case filed in Gauhati High Court were examined by the Meghalaya government and found to be false and baseless. Accordingly, the state government had filed an affidavit in the court.”

The quarries operated by Lafarge subsidiary Lum Umiam Mining Pvt Ltd in Meghalaya supply limestone for its $250 million Lafarge Surma Cement plant at Chhatak in Bangladesh, located just 10 km away from the quarries across the Indo-Bangladesh border. The limestone is sent through a 17-km-long cross-border conveyor belt.

On Feb 5, the apex court ordered the French firm to immediately stop its mining operations following SAC’s allegations that the firm has raised funds from various international banks after mortgaging the state’s land it had fraudulently transferred to itself.

The bench ordered LUMPL to stop its mining operations in Meghalaya on a lawsuit by SAC.

The lawsuit alleged that the French firm transferred the land belonging to tribals to itself in collusion with some local groups.

The lawsuit alleged that the firm later “mortgaged the tribal land to foreign banks like the Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Deutsche Investitutions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft, the European Investment Bank, the Arab Bangladesh Bank and the Standard Chartered Bank”.

SAC legal adviser B.M. Roy Dolloi said Lafarge is ignoring the apex court’s stay by carrying on with the mining operations during the stay period.

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