No cutoff year for compensation claims, says NGT panel 

Some of already extracted coal freshly mined

SHILLONG: There would not be any cutoff year for making claims by the relatives of miners who have lost their lives or have been injured while carrying out mining activities.
Speaking to The Shillong  Times on Saturday, retired judge BP Katoki, who heads the NGT committee, said though the green tribunal during its hearing on August 31 last year had referred to the 2012 case of deaths of miners in South Garo Hills as the baseline, he wants the affected families to make claims without any cut-off year.
The state government has already issued notice for making claims from January 11 while setting a deadline of one month.
A meeting, chaired by Katoki, was held here on Friday to discuss matters related to rehabilitation of miners and protection of environment.
The panel wanted from the state government the number of mine workers who died or were injured in the past, which, however was not provided by the officials though several miners have reportedly perished in the past.
The intention of the judicial committee to invite claims is to get the status of the deaths and injuries to miners during mining activities in the past.
According to Katoki, in one of the meetings in the past, the state government had expressed reservation about the claims, but the panel insisted that these should be welcomed.
“We only have to screen the applications”, he said.
The state already has the environment protection fund and the NGT-appointed committee wants the families of the workers who were killed or injured while carrying out mining to come forward and avail the compensation.
Kakoti said during the meeting on Friday, the state government informed that the remaining already extracted coal is 23 lakh metric tonne.
“But this will be jointly verified by experts from Indian School of Mines and Central Pollution Control Board”, he said.
According to Katoti, some of the 23 lakh metric tonnes of coal may be freshly mined.
The NGT panel wanted the police to act on the 98 cases of illegal coal mining reported against the ban order.
The state government also reported to the NGT committee about the seizure of 2,700 trucks and that in this regard, 1200 cases were registered.
What irked Katoti during the meeting on Friday was that the police did not provide details regarding investigation of these cases.
Case against fresh deaths
The state government informed the NGT panel that a case was registered against the owner of the mine in East Jaintia Hills where two miners, who were carrying out illegal coal mining, died on January 6 when boulders fell on them.
The NGT had on August 31 appointed the judicial panel to deal with the issues related to protection of environment and safety of miners.

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