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NGT imposes Rs 1 crore fine for deaths of five children in abandoned pits in UP

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New Delhi, Apr 21 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has imposed a Rs 1 crore fine on two brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district that illegally mined clay from agricultural fields and dug deep pits that were later abandoned, causing the deaths of five children last year.

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The green panel was hearing a petition regarding the illegal mining by Maa Bhagwati Brick Field and Shri Ram Brick Field whose unattended pits were filled with water during the monsoon and caused the deaths of five children who accidently fell into those.

Four children aged three, eight, 10 and 12 drowned in the pits that were around two metres deep on June 27 last year. The following month a 13-year-old boy died after falling into another pit, a report submitted by the authorities concerned said.

Noting the evidence before it, a bench of National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava said, "It is clear that deaths of five children had taken place on account of their accidental drowning in the pits dug up by respondent nos 5 (Maa Bhagwati Brick Field) and 6 (Shri Ram Brick Field) while illegally extracting the soil beyond the permissible limit and these pits were filled with rain water and mud, hence were not visible, which resulted into the accidental deaths." It was a failure of the project proponents (both brick kilns) for not reclaiming the mined areas and also leaving those unfenced, the bench also comprising Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad said.

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In an order passed on April 18, the tribunal said Maa Bhagwati Brick Kiln was responsible for the deaths of three children while Shri Ram Brick Field had dug the pits where two children suffocated to death.

"They are liable to pay compensation to the extent of Rs 20 lakh to the family members of each deceased child," it said.

The tribunal directed the state government to disburse the compensation amount and then recover it from the brick kilns.

"Let the above payments be made by the concerned district magistrate to the family members of the victims within a period of two months from today and an action taken report be submitted within three months," the tribunal said. PTI MNR SZM

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