Lafarge India has suffered a setback, with the National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) rejecting the clearance to a Rs 900-crore cement plant it was proposing at Ghanger in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district.
In a statement, the company said it was examining the order and would decide on the future course of action soon.
Locals and environment activists had moved the NEAA against the proposed three-million tonne a year project, saying the cement plant and associated limestone mine quarrying would harm the region’s ecology.
An expert committee had visited the spot in June and listened to the grievances of the locals. Ritwick Dutta, lawyer for the petitioners, told Business Standard from Delhi, “The local economy stands to be destroyed by the project, besides affecting a wildlife sanctuary only five km from the project site.”
Says the order: “The authority is convinced that on environmental and social considerations, it is neither desirable to mine the Telehan village nor put up a cement plant at Ghanger.”
Adding: “Both the EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) and the environment ministry have not correctly assessed the impact of the project on land, water and air, and failed to appreciate its effects on the livelihood of the people of the area.”
The environment clearance to the project was challenged in two separate petitions by Pratap Singh Thakur and Ganga Singh Thakur, both local residents. The state government had approved the proposal from Lafarge in September 2006.
Denying the allegations, the company said a detailed impact study with respect to air, water, soil, noise and socio-economic components was undertaken within the 10-km radius of the proposed project site and necessary safeguards provided. It further said a majority of the people living within the radius were in the working category and did not depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Manufacturing at the site will be undertaken through a dry process technology using minimal water and based on zero discharge concept, Lafarge said.