Lafarge provides compensation to Meghalaya farmers

Posted on: October 20, 2014

Nongtrai (Meghalaya), Oct. 20 (PTI): Farmers and entrepreneurs from at least 50 villages in and around the mining site of French cement major, Lafarge, in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district have benefited from nearly Rs 100 crore disbursed as compensation by the multinational company, according to an official.

These include entrepreneurs who have undertaken rubber plantation, bee keeping, black pepper and betel nut plantations.

Farmers at Nongtrai village, for instance, have planted 20,000 saplings of indigenous Khasi Mandarin variety of orange.

A large chunk of the village land was acquired by the company for mining two million tonnes of limestone for its cement plant in Bangladesh’s Chattak.

“We have released Rs 14.63 crore to the beneficiaries till April, 2014 of the approved budget of Rs 48.7 crore in the two years that we have started implementing various projects under the scheme,” K.C. Momin, the secretary of the Special Purpose Vehicle Society, told PTI.

The Special Purpose Vehicle Society is an executive body appointed for carrying out development in the mining areas of Lafarge Umiam Pvt Ltd for about 50 villages in East Khasi Hills district.

Momin said the projects included infrastructure development, education, livelihood projects and irrigation as specified by an order of the Supreme Court.

The Lafarge Surma Cement project at Chhatak in Bangladesh is wholly dependent on limestone extracted from Nongtrai village in East Khasi Hills district.

The Supreme Court had directed the multinational company to pay Rs 20 crore per annum towards integrated development and afforestation for the diversion of 1,16.589 hectares of land in the area.

Till date, Lafarge has released compensation of Rs 100 crore for livelihood and development projects and irrigation, besides supporting education within a 50km periphery from Nongtrai, Momin said.

The rest of the amount is yet to be deposited by the state government with the society.

The latest report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India tabled in June this year has noted that Lafarge is the only company mining limestone in Meghalaya that has acquired necessary licence for mining.

“Of the 16 mining leases granted for carrying out mining of limestone in the state, only one mining company (owned by French Cement major, Lafarge) has obtained clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),” the CAG report said.

Sources: The Telegraph India