All about Rat Hole Mining in India.

Rat Hole Mining in India.

What is the Rat Hole Mining issue?

A coal mine in Meghalaya, East Jaintia Hills collapsed on 13 December trapping at least 15 workers, who are feared dead.

This incident threw light on the dangerous procedure followed for mining in Meghalaya called Rat Hole Mining.
All about Rat Hole Mining in India.

What is Rat Hole Mining?

Rat Hole Mining involves Digging of very small tunnels, usually only 3-4 feet high, which worker often children enter and extract coal.

The Rat Hole Mining is usually of 2 types-:

Side Cutting - In this narrow tunnels are dug on the hill slopes and worker goes inside until they find Coal.
Box Cutting - Rectangle opening is made varying from 10 to 100 sqm. Once the coal seam is found, rat hole size tunnel is dug horizontally through which worker can extract coal.

Why they don’t follow the scientific procedure for coal extraction? 

Like in Jharkhand coal layer is extremely thick so the scientific procedure such as Open Cast Mining can be done and in Meghalaya, coal layer is very thin so not viable there.

As removal of rocks or putting, pillars can be costlier so holes are dug.

What are the Impacts of Rat Hole Mining?

Ecology - Caused Water to become acidic as the water of rivers Like Kopili, Maynodu, Lunar, and Lukha became acidic.
Roads- Roads are Blocked by coal as Coal is used to pile them.
Pollution - A threat of air, water and soil pollution and causes a threat to the near inhabitants.
Risk - During the rainy season water seep inside causing the life of many workers like the recent one.
Murder - Many cases of murder are taken place and body are disposed of in such mines.
Illegal - NGT had banned this in 2014 on the ground of Practice being unscientific and unsafe.
Un-Ethical - These Mines employes generally children so this is child labor as well as these children are not local and transported from Assam, Nepal, and Bangladesh which is trafficking.

What are the Laws Regarding Rat Hole Mining?

NGT had banned this in 2014 on the ground of practice being unscientific.

Meghalaya has “ Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy 2012 but was not adequate.

Why Meghalaya Opposed NGT Ban?

Meghalaya opposed NGT Ban because it was imposed without providing alternative employment or economic engagement for the Coal Mine Owner and workers as Meghalaya generate a total of 640 Million tonnes of coal per annum and most of which come through Rat Hole Mining.

 Also, the private individual with interest in earning monetary benefit from minerals vested under the land is legitimizing their act by claiming immunity through tribal autonomy over land ownership.

What should be done for Rat Hole Mining problem?

Weight Bridge - There should be the use of weight bridge and ICT integration to check the amount of extracted coal being transported which would be helpful to find the amount of illegal coal being transported and help to maintain check and balance for coal.
Promote Tourism - As Meghalaya is at the Indo - Burma biodiversity hotspot, tourism industry needs to be promoted for an alternative source of income for workers and slowly this will reduce their dependence on Rat Hole Mining for Income.
MGNREGA - As Rat Hole Mining generate a fair number of employment opportunity for the local population which needs to be substituted by proper implementation of MGNREGA through village employment council and area employment Council.

What is the difference between Rat Hole Mining rescue in India the Cave rescue operation in Thailand?

Successful -The first difference is that the Thai Rescue Operation was successful but the Indian was not.
Better Equipment - S.K. Sastri leading the Rescue operation tell that 10 pumps with 100 hp required but they were having only 2.
Attention - The Thai rescue operation was a global effort because 9000 volunteers flocked they're but the Indian rescue operation wasn’t able to grab the attention of Indians.
Political Will - CM of Meghalaya was ignoring the incident and in its election manifesto he had promised that he will Cancel the Ban on the Rat Hole Mining.
Coordination -In Thailand all the equipment reached the spot within 3 days but in India necessary equipment requires 2 weeks to come.


As India aspires to be the world's superpower but it fails in fulfilling the basic requirenment of its citizen like Right to LIfe.

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