The National Green Tribunal has said that the state government has an obligation to provide humane working conditions, safety gadgets, proper remuneration and other such facilities to workers engaged in the mining of coal.
The observation came while hearing a case relating to a 2012 mining accident in Meghalaya in which 15 persons were killed after being trapped in a coal mine.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that though better working conditions in mines may not be strictly a subject of the Tribunal but it has implications on environment and its injurious effect on human health.
“…the government has an obligation to provide humane working conditions, safety gadgets, proper remuneration and such other facilities so that workers engaged in the mines as well as in the transportation of the coal are not forced to work in the conditions which are bound to expose them to chronic diseases and make them susceptible to fall as victims on recurrence of such event.
“The young boys, who are expected to be studying in the schools at the tender age of 12/13 years are not expected to be working in rat-hole mine. We express a pious hope that the state government shall take all such measures including those which have been stated in the recommendations of the Committee and direct the mine owners to provide for all such measures and conditions of service to the mine workers as are required under the prevalent laws,” the bench said.
The green bench had earlier prohibited coal mining in the entire state of Meghalaya but allowed transportation of extracted coal kept in the open with due “checks and balances”.
It had also constituted a committee under Additional Chief Secretary Kuljit Singh Kropha and directed it to provide a complete scheme with regard to valuation of the extracted coal lying in the various mining sites in the state.