The chairman of the committee of the National Green Tribunal(NGT) for rat hole mining in Meghalaya has advised small coal mine owners in the State to form cooperatives to shift to scientific and sustainable mining.
He added that cooperatives will have to ensure the safety of mining workers and sustainability of the environmentally vulnerable areas.
The NGT had also advised the state to explore alternative way of mining that factors in safety measures, environmental clearance and restoring the areas mined.
Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal.The horizontal tunnels are often termed rat-holes.It is an unsafe way to extract coal with minimum machinery.
The National Green Tribunal(NGT) had banned rat-hole mining in 2014, and retained the ban in 2015.The ban was on grounds of the practice being unscientific and unsafe for workers.
But the orders of the Tribunal has been violated and the Meghalaya government has failed to check illegal mining effectively.
NGT had formed a committee under B.P. Katakey after rat hole mine at Khloe Ryngksai in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya had cause death of 17 miners in December 2018.