Meghalaya rathole mine tragedy: SC questions need to go on with rescue work but agrees to one ‘last-ditch effort’

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  1. The Supreme Court has questioned the need to continue with the rescue operations for trapped miners in a rathole mine in Meghalaya.
  2. A coal mine in Meghalaya East Jaintia Hills had collapsed which threw light on a dangerous procedure known as “rat-hole mining”.
  3. Rat hole mining involves digging of very small tunnels, usually only 3-4 feet high, which workers enter and extract coal.The rat-hole mining is broadly of two types – (a) side-cutting where narrow tunnels are dug on the hill slopes and workers go inside until they find the coal seam (b)box-cutting type where a rectangular opening is made.Through this, a vertical pit is dug.Once the coal seam is found,rat-hole-sized tunnels are dug horizontally through which workers can extract the coal.
  4. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has 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.
  5. But the orders of the Tribunal has been violated and the State Government has failed to check illegal mining effectively.