In Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, at least seven police men got injured after a mob barged in during a public hearing for expansion of a limestone mining project on Saturday.
A mob, that had gathered to protest against the project outside the district’s Deputy Commissioner’s office, where the public hearing was held, forcefully entered inside and pelted stones.
Police had to resort to tear-gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, police said.
The hearing was regarding the proposed expansion of the limestone mining project by Star Cement Ltd.
“Seven police personnel, including women constables, suffered injuries during the protest and stone pelting incident,” East Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner (DC) E Kharmalki told media.
Several anti-mining and pro-environment groups have for a very long time expressed strong opposition against the expansion of the mining project.
The groups were also against the decision of holding the public hearing at the DC’s office, which they say is very far away from the proposed mining area at Brishyrnot.
The public hearing started off peacefully at 11 am but had to be adjourned after over 1,000 people, including NGO activists, started barging into the venue, Kharmalki said.
“We had tried to resume the hearing hoping situation will wane down, but it further escalated,” Kharmalki said.
Kharmalki, further said, that he will immediately submit a report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
“A report (regarding the incident) will be sent to the MoEF so that it can accordingly take a decision,” he said and added that the next date for the public hearing will depend on the decision of the ministry.
The protesting organisation have said that allowing expansion of the project will affect the environment. Not only will it pollute rivers but also affect the Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary which is located adjacent to the proposed mining area, they stated.