Saturday, June 15, 2024

Lafarge gets green light

Mining in India
Lafarge gets green light 
Cement manufacturer Lafarge will be able to mine limestone in Meghalaya for its plant in Bangladesh, as India’s Supreme Court yesterday gave a green light ending a 17-month ban.
A three-judge bench headed by Indian Chief Justice SH Kapadia allowed Lafarge Surma Cement Ltd to resume mining under conditions.
The court decision comes as good news for Lafarge’s $255-million cement plant in Chhatak that is wholly dependent on limestone mined by the French company in the East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya.
India’s top court on February 5, 2010, had halted mining by the unit of the world’s biggest cement maker because of environmental concerns.
The supply of limestone from Meghalaya came to a halt in the first week of April 2010, and the company was unable to produce clinkers anymore.
“Then the company started importing clinkers from abroad to maintain limited production of its cement until the verdict came,” Shuvashish Priya Barua, director of corporate affairs for Lafarge Surma Cement, told The Daily Star by phone.
The limestone is transported to the Chhatak plant in Bangladesh by a 17-kilometre-long conveyor belt from Meghalaya. Local people and a non-governmental organisation opposed mining in the area arguing it will lead to ecological degradation.
The Indian government sought permission from the court to start mining after Lafarge agreed to pay part of its sale proceeds to the Meghalaya government for development in the region, news agency Bloomberg reported.
“We are satisfied with the MOEF [Ministry of Environment and Forest] as it has taken a due diligence exercise,” the Supreme Court said.
Lafarge has said it is bringing “advanced technologies for scientific mining and sustainable development” to the poverty-hit region that will minimise any impact on the environment, according to an AFP report.
The Bangladesh government had been pushing India to allow resumption of the limestone mining for the Chhatak plant which holds close to a 10 percent share of Bangladesh’s cement market.
The court decision comes as India has been seeking to boost ties with Bangladesh with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slated to visit Dhaka in September.
The Indian government initially cleared the export of limestone from Meghalaya to Bangladesh in 2000

-With The Daily Star input

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