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Rat hole mining UPSC NOTE

 Why in News

  • A one-member panel appointed by the High Court of Meghalaya to handle coal-related issues has flagged the lack of progress in restoring the environment damaged by rat-hole coal mining in the northeastern State

  • The High Court appointed Justice Katakey in April 2022 to recommend measures to the Meghalaya government in compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had banned the hazardous rat-hole coal mining in April 2014

Rat-hole mining

  • Rat-hole mining, aptly named for its resemblance to rodent burrows, is an illegal and highly hazardous method of extracting coal prevalent in certain pockets of India, particularly the state of Meghalaya.

  • Unlike large-scale mechanised mines, this practice involves digging narrow, horizontal tunnels barely large enough for a single person to squeeze through.

  • These tunnels, often referred to as "rat holes," can extend tens of meters underground.

  • Miners descend precariously using ropes, bamboo ladders, or makeshift supports and work in cramped, poorly ventilated conditions with basic tools like pickaxes and shovels.

  • The extracted coal is then hauled back up through these narrow passages, making the entire process incredibly dangerous and backbreaking.

Associated Issues:

  • Danger to Life and Limb: The narrow tunnels are prone to collapses, often trapping miners underground.

  • Poor ventilation leads to suffocation, and the lack of proper safety measures makes them vulnerable to accidents, injuries and life threatening diseases.

  • Environmental Damage: Deforestation to clear land for access points, soil erosion from haphazard digging, and water contamination due to improper waste disposal are some of the lasting environmental consequences of this practice.

  • Rat hole mines also cause acidic runoff, known as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), leading to degraded water quality and reduced biodiversity in affected water bodies.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Rat hole mining UPSC NOTE
Rat hole mining UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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