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Article

19 Dec 2018

Author:
Pranjal Baruah, News18, India

India: Caught between coal mafia and flooding dangers, Meghalaya mine was reportedly disaster from day one

"Caught between coal mafia and flooding dangers, Meghalaya mine was disaster from day one", 20 December 2018

The collapse of a coal mine, trapping 14 workers in [Meghalaya] and the attack on RTI [right to information] activist Agnes Kharshiing allegedly by coal mafia, have put the spotlight on the rampant illegal coal mining in the state, despite a ban by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014...

On November 8, Kharshiing was thrashed by alleged coal mining racketeers in Kongong area for taking pictures of some coal-laden trucks. Her complaints against the illegal miners were ignored and the police registered a case of robbery and attempt to murder. A month later on December 13, some 48 km away from the spot where she was assaulted, 14 persons were trapped inside an illegal ‘rat-hole' mine at Ksan in the district's Saipung area...

Recalling her visit to Saipung last year, Kharshiing said, “I met miners aged between 16 and 20. They had come from Assam’s Barpeta and Karbi Anglong districts and a few were from Nepal. Burdened with severe poverty, these miners had chosen a job that could have killed them any day. The government doesn’t seem to be bothered with human lives.”...

Apart from being illegal, these mines are notorious for their dangerous and primitive methods...Locals and mine workers claim sometimes tunnels are so small that minor workers are hired only because of their small size. The rat-hole mine of Ksan, where the fate of 14 workers still remains uncertain, is believed to be 70 feet deep and now filled with water...

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