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Court to decide if the French firm Lafarge should be given a forest clearance certificate to resume limestone mining in Meghalaya, halted by the apex court Feb 5.

Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati pleaded before a special forest bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to adjourn the hearing for two weeks to enable the government take a decision.

The court was hearing a lawsuit of Shella Action Committee, a civil society group of local Shella tribal of the East Khasi Hills district in state.

Vahanvati promised that the government would decide within a fortnight if it was feasible for it to give Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited the forest clearance certificate if the French firm abides by certain monetary stipulations for the development of tribals and the region around its project area.

He said the government is contemplating to grant forest clearance certificate to the firm in case it pays a sum of Rs.55 crore along with a 9 percent annual interest over it till its payment, as suggested by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee’s for development in the tribal region.

Vahanvati told the court that other stipulations included creation of a special institutional panel, known as Special Purpose Vehicle, under the chairpersonship of the Meghalaya chief secretary to oversee the developmental work, funded by the monetary compensations to be paid by the French firm.

The French firm will have to pay a compensation at the rate of Rs.90 per tonne of the limestone from the date from which it commenced mining earlier, said Vahanvati.

He also listed out in detail other conditions that the French firm will have to follow for development of the area in case it is given a forest clearance certificate.

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