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Lafarge set to start cement project in Bangla with Meghalaya lime

Written by: Staff
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Shella, Apr 11 (UNI) Dispelling controversies regarding environmental hazards, limestone from Meghalaya will roll into Bangladesh through a 17-km-long cross border track, as Lafarge Umium Mining Private Limited (LUMPL) is set to begin its cement production at Chhatak in Sylhet district of Banlgadesh.

The transportation of lime from Meghalaya to Bangladesh is scheduled to start within a month.

In the past few years, local people had been apprehensive about the project as various environmental groups were against it on the pretext that it might cause hazards in picturesque Meghalaya. The track, with seven km inside the hilly Indian soil and the remaining in the mushy Bangladeshi terrain, will carry limestone in trolleys from the company's mining site in the Nongtrai and Shella region in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya to the grinding plant in the Bangladeshi soil for cement production.

LUMPL, a joint venture between France-based Lafarge and Spanish cement producer Cementos Molins, has recently started their mining operations in the region, about 70 km from state capital Shillong.

''We hope to begin transportation of limestone from our mining site to our grinding plant across the border in a month's time. The work would have begun already. The delay was caused by some damage to the track due to a recent fire incident,'' Y N Chan, Managing Director of LUMPL told UNI here today.

''The track has been fully repaired and we are now testing how it works,'' said Mr Chan, who manages the company's Dhaka office.

The company had earmarked 25 billion US dollars for its mining operations in Meghalaya and almost the entire amount has been utilised.

The funding has come from international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

''We have already utilised almost the entire 25 billion US dollars. It would take 10 to 15 years to reach the break even point,'' said Mr Chan.

The company has acquired about 100 hectares of land from individual landowners in the Nongtrai and Shella region for its mining operations.

''We have procured land from about 80 individual landowners in the region. We have spent a huge chunk of our investment in providing compensation to them, he added.

Mining activities received a boost, as the locals came up with support shrugging off their initial fears.

''The landowners have received adequate compensation and there is no dissatisfaction. We hope that the company would provide employment to the locals and help in infrastracture development in the region,'' said Mr K B Roy, headman of Shella village.

''We would definitely employ the eligible locals and also take up other infrastracture development programmes covering healthcare, education and livelihood training to them,'' said Mr Chan.

UNI SG/PRS PL SHB RK1325

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