The plight of trapped miners in Meghalaya raises an important question, just how low will mining elite stoop to make a profit? The miners — four from Assam, seven from the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and three from the local area in East Jaintia Hills — have been trapped inside the flooded mine for 15 days.
There are hundreds of abandoned coal pits in the area and when miners dig around, they are not aware that they could hit an abandoned mine filled with water. That’s how water entered the mines. Such mine accidents have been taking place since 1992.
While the fate of Meghalaya’s trapped miners has briefly caught the attention of the national press, in the capital of Shillong, the news has cast an uncomfortable light on a dirty secret that many in the state’s growing urban middle class would prefer to ignore — that some of the wealth in the city comes from the narrow, unstable tunnels of the rat-hole mines in the countryside.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned rat-hole mining in 2014, but the practice still continues in illegal ways putting the lives of miners at great risk. On the other hand, a local newspaper came up with a report that banning rat-hole mining has left the mine owners in dire states.