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Mizoram Stone quarry collapse: NGT constitutes committee, reprimands authorities

ANI | Updated: Nov 30, 2022 15:09 IST

New Delhi [India], November 30 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed to constitute a joint committee to be headed by the Chief Secretary, Mizoram with other members in connection to the Stone quarry collapse incident in Mizoram in which several people died.
"We express our regret that adequate sensitivity is not shown by the authorities in dealing with a human tragedy of such magnitude," the tribunal said.
The Tribunal's bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, in an order passed on November 28, 2022, stated that the State Authorities may ensure disbursement of compensation to the victims by taking such coercive measures as may be necessary against the contractor firm, failing which the State itself will be liable for payment.
"State may also take appropriate stringent measures against violation of the law. Action to be taken by the State Authorities should include fixing responsibility for violating environment and safety norms, including in handling of explosive for blasting," the tribunal had said.
"A joint Committee to be headed by the Chief Secretary, Mizoram with other members including Regional Officer, MoEF & CC, Shillong Regional Officer, CPCB, Shillong, District Magistrate, Hnahthial, Member Secretary, State PCB, State Disaster Management Authority, Secretary, Geology and Mining Department, Mizoram, the nominee of Petroleum, Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), nominees of Chief Controller of Explosive, Nagpur and IIT Dhanbad, to present a 'factual and action taken' report in the matter with recommendations to prevent such disasters in future within one month," the NGT ordered.

Tribunal also noted that "in such serious issues, investigation cannot be long drawn and statutory regulators could at least give prima facie version. It is further surprising that compensation paid to the victims is ridiculously low. Compensation ought to have been paid at least as per the scale laid down in the Employees/Workmen Compensation Act, 1923.
Earlier, counsel for the State had made an oral statement that the private contractor firm was indulging in illegal blasting for mining for which FIR has been lodged and an investigation is in progress. Further action will be taken as per law.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India (MoEF&CC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have not taken any stand.
Counsel for the contractor firm has stated that compensation of Rs. 1 lakh each has been given to the deceased and payment of ex-gratia is awaited from the PM Relief Fund.
"It was a case of an accident, for which the firm has no responsibility," said the lawyer.
The NGT initiated this matter after taking note of a media report titled "Stone quarry collapses in Mizoram, 12 feared dead", and to the effect that as a consequence of the collapse of slope in Hnahthial District, Mizoram, 12 people, who were the workers engaged by a private firm, died. The incident was reported on November 14. (ANI)