Meghalaya: 13 miners still trapped in 'rat-hole' mine

The incident exposed the illegal mining and violation of National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order in 2014 banning 'rate hole' mining in Meghalaya, which resulted in death of several persons. (Image for representational)

Rescue workers continued their efforts on Saturday to reach 13 coal miners who have been trapped inside a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya after water gushed into it on Thursday afternoon.

Police officials, who continued efforts to pump out water from the mining pit, suspected all 13 had died but refused to confirm.

They said the incident took place when the workers got inside the mining hole at Ksan under Saipung police station, situated about 90-km east of the state capital Shillong. "It is an abandoned coal mining pit near a river and mining began about three-four days ago. We are trying to pump out the water to ascertain their condition," a police official said.

The incident exposed the illegal mining and violation of National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order in 2014 banning 'rate hole' mining in Meghalaya, which resulted in death of several persons. The Supreme Court will hear a petition seeking lifting of the NGT ban on January 15. The apex court had earlier allowed transportation of the extracted and assessed coal till January 31, 2019.

The NGT imposed the ban on hazardous coal mining following a petition filed by an Assam-based NGO that complained that mining in the upstream areas has polluted waters in a river that flowed down to Assam.

The police official said four of the 13 workers are from Assam, while the rest are from Meghalaya.

At least 15 workers had died in 2012 after 30 had got trapped inside a mining pit similarly but 15 managed to come out.

NGOs in the state alleged that illegal mining was still on, mainly in East Jaintia Hills district, despite an NGT ban. Agnes Kharsiang, a prominent social activist in Meghalaya was attacked by members of a suspected gang of coal miners last month after she had allegedly clicked photographs of 'illegal coal mining' and transportation of coals in East Jaintia Hills district and shared them with media.

She was critically injured and spent nearly a month in a hospital in Shillong. Kharsiang has been vocal saying a nexus of politicians and police was allowing illegal coal mining in the state.

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Meghalaya: 13 miners still trapped in 'rat-hole' mine

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