Meghalaya HC directs state police to take action against illegal coke plants

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Newmai News Network

Shillong, June 12: The Meghalaya High Court has directed the Meghalaya police to take action against owners of illegal coke plants as per law.

“It is hoped that the State police take necessary steps in accordance with law and as expeditiously as possible,” the full bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said in its order after hearing a PIL on the matter.  

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This was after the Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP) Dr LR Bishnoi had informed that most of the owners of the illegal coke plants are based in Assam.

“The actual owners/operators of the illegal coke plants are mostly based in Assam and have been running the illegal business in Meghalaya and several benami transactions have also come to light,” the DGP had stated in his affidavit filed before the Court.

Petitioner Shailendra Kumar Sharma said that the kingpins are well known and are roaming freely in Guwahati with all and sundry knowing of their whereabouts and their operations.

The bench has directed the DGP to file a further report within three weeks.

Meanwhile, Justice BP Katakey has also filed a 14th interim report, once again indicating the flourishing business in both coke oven and ferroalloy plants.

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According to the report, there are 13 coke oven plants in operation in the East Jaintia Hills and 38 further coke oven plants which are not in operation.

In West Jaintia Hills and South West Khasi Hills, there are two and six coke oven plants, respectively, which are not in operation. In West Khasi Hills district there are four coke oven plants in operation and 61 others not in operation.

In addition, there is one ferroalloy plant operation in the West Khasi Hills District. In Ri-Bhoi, though there are no coke oven plants, five out of seven ferroalloy plants are in operation.

The bench said that details have been furnished in paragraph 8 as to whether the operating coke oven plants have permission to operate or otherwise.

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“It is difficult to accept that such information as furnished in Justice Katakey’s latest report would not be available to the State or the State would not do anything to check the operation of coke oven and ferroalloy plants that continue without any permission,” it said.

The bench has further directed that “the DGP’s next report should deal specifically with such aspects of the matter by referring to the findings and observations in Justice Katakey’s 14th interim report.”

It said that leave is given to the petitioner to file an affidavit to deal with the contents of both the affidavit filed on June 8, 2023, by the DGP and the 14th interim report filed by Justice Katakey.

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The petitioner may furnish any additional information pertaining to the persons who are the real owners of the coke oven and ferroalloy plants in Meghalaya that are operating illegally.

Further, the bench maintained that this order will not prevent plants which are operating with due permission to continue operations. “However, the State must keep a strict vigil on such plants, particularly the source of coal obtained by such plants,” it directed.

The next hearing will be held on July 3.

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