Meghalaya has reported another mining mishap in which two labourers died in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district.
The superintendent of police, Sylvester Nongtnger said bodies of two labourers were found on Sunday, a day after an uncle of one of the victims had lodged an FIR at Khliehriat police station complaining that his nephew was missing. The SP suspected that the two died after a boulder hit them when they tried to cut the body of a mine pit at Jalyiah village to extract coal.
The two have been identified as Elad Bareh and Monoj Basumatary, residents of the same district.
The new mishap took place amid the ongoing operation in search of 15 miners, who got trapped in a coal mine on December 13 in the same district and has remained missing since then. NDRF, Navy divers, Coal India Limited, Odisha fire service personnel and MS Kirloskar Brothers, a private firm are jointly carrying out the search. Pumping of water from the mine was still on.
Miners in Meghalaya use primitive rat-hole mining method by both vertically and horizontally cutting the hills to extract coal. Many labourers have died following landslides or flooding in such mines. Some holes are so narrow that an adult can't enter and so they used to engage minors to extract coal and thus came the name rat-hole mining. This practice is still on despite a ban on all forms of coal mining by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014.
Faced with an allegation of a nexus between coal miners with police and politicians, police on Sunday conducted raids against illegal mining and arrested at least seven labourers. Police said efforts are on to nab some coal miners, who are violating the NGT order.