- Moolamylliang, a village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, is making progress in becoming a greener place amid abandoned pits from the rat-hole mining.
- National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned hazardous rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya in April 2014 and set a time limit for transporting the coal already mined till that time.
- The Jaintia Coal Miners and Dealers’ Association claims there are some 60,000 coal mines across 360 villages in East Jaintia Hills district.
- Moolamylliang used to be one such village until the National Green Tribunal’s ban.
Back to Basics
- It is a primitive and hazardous method of mining for coal, with tunnels that are only 3-4 feet in diameter (hence, rat-hole), leading to pits ranging from 5-100 sq. mt deep.
- There are two types of rat-holes: when dug into the ground these are vertical shafts leading to the mines where horizontal tunnels are dug; the second type is where horizontal holes are dug directly in the hillsides to reach coal seams (bed of coal).
- The coal is taken out manually, loaded into a bucket or a wheelbarrow and dumped on a nearby un-mined area. From here, it is carried to larger coal dumps near highways for trade and transportation.
- Rat hole mining cheaper than other conventional mining methods and also hilly geography necessitate such mining method.
- Coal reserves are primarily found in the Eastern India in states of Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and predominantly in North-East regions like Assam and Meghalaya.
- Despite the presence of coal reserves, commercial mining is not practiced in the North-Eastern regions because of terrain’s unsuitability as well as nature of coal deposits.
- Open mining cannot be practiced due to the added difficulties. Further, the coal found in North-East contains lots of sulfur.
- This overall reduces the energy efficiency and therefore this type of coal is categorized as bad quality of coal.
Source: The Hindu