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Govt will face contempt if mining goes on: NGT

SHILLONG: A three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) headed by Justice (retired) BP Katoki on Friday asked Meghalaya government to stop illegal coal mining in the state or face contempt.
The NGT had ordered an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014 after Assam-based Dimasa Students’ Union filed a petition alleging that “illegal rat-hole mining” in Jaintia Hills was polluting the Kopili river.
The Committee which was constituted to supervise and look into the issue of the environmental restoration plan and other connected matters in Meghalaya, also took stock of the rescue operations to evacuate the 15 miners who have been trapped inside an illegal flooded coal mine.
“They have given us progress report about the rescue operations so far going on. We have strictly told them that unless you stop it, you will be held up for contempt,” Katoki told UNI.
On January 4, the NGT had imposed a whopping Rs 100 crore fine on the Meghalaya government for its failure to curb illegal coal mining in the state.
“We have issued directions from time to time and today (Friday) we have issued certain directions to the government and we have taken on record the action taken report submitted by various departments,” Katoki said.
Katoki said that the Committee has also directed the government to prepare a scheme for rehabilitation of workers and alternative employment scheme in the mining areas after the NGT banned coal mining.
The Committee also directed the government to explore the possibility of installing deep tube wells in the mining areas in consultation with the central ground water board.
“We have asked them to hold discussion with the central ground water board and to test pH level of ground water to ascertain if the water is acidic,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya government on Friday issued a public notice seeking the names of miners injured as well as the next of kin of those killed in mishaps since 2012.
Fifteen miners were trapped in a flooded mine at Nengkol in Rongsa Awe region of Nangalbibra, South Garo Hills. The bodies of all the 15 miners were never found.
The survivors of coal mining victims have been asked to submit details of incidents resulting in injury or death along with supporting documents within a month of publication of the notice to the Commissioner and Secretary of Meghalaya’s Mining and Geology Department. (UNI)

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