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NGT hearing on Meghalaya mine mishap today

By Raju Das

SHILLONG, Jan 23 � The National Green Tribunal (NGT) would be holding a crucial hearing here on Friday and seek answers from the Meghalaya Government on the rat-hole coal mine accident of 2012 in South Garo Hills in which the fate of 15 miners still remains a mystery.

Justice MS Nambiar as the judicial member and Ranjan Chatterjee as the expert member of the Tribunal will hold the hearing with the State Government officials. �The hearing on the mishap would be held here tomorrow,� Justice Nambiar said.

The tribunal would first seek the investigation report of the accident, in which the bodies of the 15 coal miners have still not been retrieved, from the State Government.

Earlier, the State Government had told the NGT that it was investigating into the mishap to ascertain the number of people trapped or otherwise killed and the circumstances leading to the accident.

The NGT was unhappy with the report submitted before it by the State Government and said that it better come up with its investigation properly into the cause of the accident and warned that it would otherwise �dig up the truth� if the State Government fails to do so.

The cause of the accident remains sketchy, but as the State Government claimed about 30 miners were trapped inside a remote coal mine in Nangalbibra in South Garo Hills after water entered into it. Fifteen miners managed to escape, but 15 were unable to do so.

The National Disaster Response Force was roped in for the rescue operations, but the team could not find the bodies of the miners.

Sadly, these bodies of the miners who were trapped were never retrieved and the NGT has asked what could be the difficulty in retrieving the bodies when there was only one entry point.

According to the understanding of the NGT, in the absence of an additional exit points in the mine the bodies must be still inside it and these must be retrieved and handed over to the family of the victims.

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