SC rejects Meghalaya miners’ plea on coal transportation

  1. The Supreme Court has refused to allow miners to transport extracted coal lying at various sites in Meghalaya.There have been allegations that mine owners are misusing the relaxation on transportation of extracted coal to flout the ban on rat-hole mining.
  2. Earlier,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.
  3. The deadline for transportation of extracted coal was being extended since April 2014.However,after the incident of rat hole mining in East Jaintia Hills,the SC had refused to allow the transportation of extracted and assessed coal beyond January 31,2019.
  4. 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 and (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.