Rat-hole mining on the rise in Meghalaya
Following the recent Meghalaya coal mine accident, the Ministry of Mines has expressed concern over the continuation of illegal rat hole coal mining.
Be aware that in rat-hole mining, narrow sarongs are usually made 3-4 feet deep. Workers (often children) enter and extract coal.
There are two types of rat-holes:
- When it is dug into the ground, these are vertical shafts that lead to the mines. Horizontal tunnels are then dug below, where horizontal tunnels are dug directly into the hill slopes to access the coal layers.
- In the year 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned rat hole mining in Meghalaya. The court has termed this mining technique as unscientific and unsafe for the workers.
- However, in the year 2019, the Supreme Court said that if coal is mined under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, and the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, the NGT ban will not apply.
Effects of Rat Hole Mining-
- The water sources in the mining areas have become unusable for drinking and irrigation. Also, this water has become toxic to plants and animals.
- This has given rise to child trafficking. In the mines many tunnels are dug diagonally. Due to this, the danger of their collapse remains, as well as the risk of drowning or flooding here also remains.
- There is also a growing demand for resettlement or alternative employment for the local people.
Source – The Hindu