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7 Jan 2019

Roli Srivastava, Thomas Reuters, India

India: One of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a coal miner, with one miner dying every six days

"India disaster exposes lack of enforcement against deadly illegal mines", 4 January 2019

Ongoing efforts to reach victims of a mining disaster in northeastern India have exposed ...poor enforcement against such illegal mines, where undocumented workers risk injury or death. At least 15 people were trapped when an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya state flooded on Dec. 13. Rescue efforts continue, although relatives said this week they had lost hope that the miners were still alive.

Environmental concerns have led to India imposing bans on the mining of coal, mica and sand, among other minerals. Yet, workers across the country continue to put themselves at risk as illegal mining continues...The most recent disaster highlighted the dangers of so-called “rat-hole” mines, where workers crawl into narrow shafts on bamboo ladders to extract low-quality coal...

Illegal mining tends to attract workers from around India and neighboring countries who are lured by the promise of relatively high wages, but are faced with dangerous conditions once they arrive...Other workers - including children - are trafficked...India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a coal miner, with one miner dying every six days on average in 2017, according to government data...

A[n]...investigation in Maharashtra state found that workers were drowning as they illegally extracted sand from the bottom of a creek near Mumbai, India’s commercial capital.

The deaths were not reported and employers paid only a few families a small amount of money.

In response to the revelations, the Maharashtra state government promised to end illegal mining along the creek, impose regulations, and provide alternate jobs.

But a year later, sand mining was continuing and most of those promises remained unfulfilled...