Why are ‘illegal mining’ victims not compensated? CPM to ask Darj DM

(Photo: SNS)

The Darjeeling district CPI (M) plans to meet the Darjeeling District Magistrate to enquire about the delay in payment of compensation to families of persons who were killed when a heap of mud fell on them during illegal sand mining at Baniakhari in Matigara block in March.

Addressing the Press today, Darjeeling district CPI (M) secretary Saman Pathak said that the National Green Tribunal had on 28 March directed the Darjeeling DM to ensure payment of Rs 20 Lakh each to the families of three victims and Rs 5 Lakh to an injured, after deducting the amount already paid, within one month.

A resident of Sitamari, Bihar, Rohit Kumar, 16, who had come to his maternal grandfather’s house, two locals of Tripali Jote, Samal Sahani, 16, and Monu Kumar, 20, lost their lives, while Akash Sahani was injured when a chunk of earth fell on them while they cut sand from the top with shovels on the Balasan riverbanks at Matigara on 6 March.


“The administration has not yet made the payment. We will meet him to ensure the payment of compensation as soon as possible, since the onemonth deadline, from the date of the order, is over. If the administration shows reluctance to ensure the payment, we would appeal to the judiciary so that the families can be compensated,” Mr Pathak said.

Former Siliguri Mayor Asok Bhattacharya said: “When the state spends huge amount of funds unnecessarily, can it not make the payment?” He also criticized the “land mafia” and alleged it was grabbing plots of land belonging to poor families in this region, while remaining in league with the police.

When contacted, Darjeeling DM S Ponnambalam said that they have submitted a “fund requisition” to the Department of Environment for the compensation. “We have submitted fund requisition to the Department of Environment as soon as we received the Honourable NGT’s order, to comply with the order of the Honourable NGT,” Mr Ponnambalam said.

It may be mentioned here that the state government has already paid Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 25,000 to the family members of the injured child on 8 March.

A notice to this effect had been served to the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, mining officer, Siliguri Zone, district magistrate of Darjeeling and the police.