SHILLONG, NOVEMBER 3: The 2018 Ksan illegal coal mining mishap is simply waiting to recur if videos circulated on the social media showing illegal coal mining activity in Meghalaya are to be believed.
The short videos were filmed secretly somewhere in East Jaintia Hills district recently. These show a miner hauling coal from a rat-hole mine up the bamboo stairs. The second video shows miners shovelling coal inside the rat-hole coal mine. The third video shows coal stacked on the surface and a miner moving around.
Though the authenticity of the video is yet to be verified, this piece of video is just one among the many that does provide the larger picture of illegal coal mining in the State.
A clinching evidence is the seizure of coal-laden trucks by the State police. Although the drivers have been arrested, there is still no clarity where the coal came from.
The Ksan coal mining mishap in East Khasi Hills district remains one of the worst mining mishaps in the State. Even the death toll is yet to be confirmed as the poor miners worked clandestinely and the owners didn’t keep their records.
Recently, Opposition leader from the Congress, Mukul Sangma visited Jaintia Hills district and saw evidence of “freshly mined coal” in the area. He demanded strict action from the State Government.
According to social activist Agnes Kharshiing, the videos are from an area under Lad Rymbai Police Station, East Jaintia Hills district and were filmed recently. She reiterated that illegal coal mining is going on in the State though the State Government denies it.
“There is blasting going on inside these illegal mines with dangerous toxic fumes inside. Some of the officials from the Directorate of Mineral Resources, police and politicians know about these facts,” she said.
Kharshiing added she had sent several letters to the State police about such illegal activities and each time the police had refuted her claims. “Every time I send in the complaint, the police goes and does some checking and says there is no such illegal mining”, Kharshiing said. The social activist and one of her associates were brutally assaulted by the coal mafia in 2018 in East Jaintia Hills district when they went to check illegal coal mining in the district.
“I want DGP R Chandranathan to visit these areas”, Kharshiing said. Most of the letters written to the State police were directly addressed to the DGP’s office and each time the state police has ruled out the allegations.
Kharshiing fears that such illegal activity and slackness on the part of the State machinery is responsible for the Ksan coal mining mishap in the same district. The social activist says that unless strict action is taken, such illegal activities would continue to endanger lives. “There are migrant workers and locals employed in the mines and some are minors”, she added.
She also blamed the Health, Forest and Environment Departments for failing to stop such activities that not only endanger the lives of humans, but also is destroying the environment and forests.
The National Green Tribunal banned coal mining in the State in 2014 for failing to stop the dangerous chemicals from these rat-hole mines flowing into the rivers and polluting them.