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Month after mishap, NGT asks Meghalaya police to investigate illegal mining

The three-member NGT committee, constituted in August last year, is currently studying the environmental aspects of rat-hole mining in the state

Press Trust of India  |  Shillong 

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A month after 15 miners were trapped in a coal mine, for which is still underway, a three-member committee of the Green (NGT) has asked the Police to investigate into nearly 1200 cases of illegal quarrying across the state.

The green had imposed a blanket ban on and in in 2014, citing unscientific methods and absence of safety measures.

The three-member NGT committee, constituted in August last year, is currently studying the environmental aspects of in the state.

An said the police have been told that their probe should reach a logical conclusion after taking into account all 1200 cases of illegal in East Garo Hills, and West and East districts.

involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal. The horizontal tunnels are often termed "rat-holes", as each just about fits one person.

On December 13, water from nearby Lytein river flooded a network of tunnels in a coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping 15 men and prompting a rescue attempt that has failed to yield any result so far.

That mining goes on unabated in the state can be gauged from the fact that heaps of freshly dug coal is dumped on both sides of the road that approaches Lumthari from Khliehriat, the district headquarters of East

Meanwhile, sources said the NGT committee, which has sought police investigation into the registered cases of illegal mining, is set to visit the state by January-end.

The committee, headed by retired Justice (Retd) B P Katakey, will conduct a field visit to on January 30-31 to study the ground-level situation, they said.

told that 98 cases of illegal quarrying have been registered in East district alone since the ban.

The committee, after a thorough study, will prepare a report and present it before the by March 31, he said.

"We have directed investigation into nearly 1200 cases of and of coal since the 2014 ban. In East Jaintia Hills, the SP has been asked to submit a report at the earliest in connection with the 98 cases recorded in the district," added.

An in the said does not maintain statistics on mining and mishaps.

"As there is no study or statistics on the prevalence of mining in the state, the three-member NGT panel has asked district deputy commissioners to furnish all available data in connection with the illegal practices," he added.

First Published: Sun, January 13 2019. 11:00 IST