January 7, 2019 - Even as there is no trace of 15 miners trapped in an illegal mine in Meghalaya’s coal-rich East Jaintia Hill area, another similar mishap killed two miners. This incident also took place at the Jaintia hill area after an illegal coal mine collapsed.
Two Killed in a Mine Collapse
The incident took place at Mooknor, Jalyiah village. It is situated about 5 km from the district headquarters in East Jaintia Hills. The incident came forward after a person named Philip Bareh filed a report of his 26-year-old nephew Elad Bareh being missing, as reported by India Today.
District police chief Sylvester Nongtnger told IANS, “A search was conducted and his body was found in front of a ‘rat-hole’ coal mine. When we further checked inside the narrow mine, another body was found. The second man was identified as Monoj Basumatry.” Nongtnger further added that probably boulders hit them while they were trying to extract coal. These two were also working on the rat-hole mines, the same kind of mines in which the 15 miners remain stuck.
NGT Imposes Fine on Meghalaya Government
On January 4, NGT imposed a Rs 100 crore fine on the Meghalaya government for its failure to curb illegal mining in the state. As reported by The Times of India, a senior advocate who is assisting NGT as an amicus curiae in the mining matter said that a report was submitted before a bench headed by AK Goel, the NGT chairperson. It stated that the majority of the mines in the state were operating without a lease or a licence. While imposing the fine, NGT said that the state hasn’t been able to put a “deterrent” and criticized it for its “inaction” to curb the illegal mining.
Rat-hole mining has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the north-eastern state in 2014, however, the effects of the ban seem to be negligible. The state is also infamous for illegal coal mining. It has nearly 640 million tonnes of coal reserves and the local miners dig out at least five million metric tons of coal by hand each year.