No rat-hole mining in JH: Govt

Scientific wisdom is used by people to extract coal: Chief Secretary

SHILLONG: Correcting the popular belief related to rat-hole mining in the state, Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri has said that there are no rat-hole mines in Jaintia Hills as the mines are managed scientifically by the people.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the Chief Secretary said that there were a few rat hole mines only in Sohra where people burrow the hills to extract coal whereas in the rest of the state including in Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills, the workers dig vertically identified areas and then move horizontally using science to remove coal from the seam which is just over 1 meter. “Hence we cannot call it as rat hole mining and moreover, scientific wisdom is used by the people to extract coal”, he said.

He also rejected the idea of open cast coal mining by saying that this would bring more environmental hazards as vast land will be used to extract coal as the seam of coal is more than 1 meter thick.

He, however, advocated initiating measures in coal mines to ensure safety of human beings including miners, protection of environment and other steps.

According to Warjri, there should be a lot of regulatory measures as far as coal mining is concerned since the coal stacked outside the mines and also water pumped from the mines have resulted in environment degradation especially pollution of the rivers.

Moreover, abandoned mines should be filled up and the land should be reclaimed.

Warjri said that the committee dealing with the preparation of regulatory measures in coal mines will be submitting its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) during its next sitting in Shillong. According to Warjri, what NGT wanted by imposing ban on coal mining is that there should be regulatory measures while mining coal as NGT was against reckless mining.

Another committee which is assessing the quantity of mined coals to be transported is yet to submit its report to the Government.

Asked how soon NGT would lift the ban on coal mining, Warjri said,” Once regulatory and safety measures are in place, the Tribunal would review its decision.”

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