Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Meghalaya Rat-Hole Coal Mining Damage

GS-3 Mains : Economy

Revision Notes

Question : Analyze the environmental and socio-economic impact of rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya, highlighting safety concerns, environmental degradation, and the exploitation of child labor. Evaluate the reasons behind the persistence of rat-hole mining despite bans and regulations.


  • Justice Katakey committee highlights lack of progress in environmental restoration.


  • NGT banned rat-hole mining in 2014 due to environmental damage and threats to miners.
  • Meghalaya High Court formed a committee in 2022 to suggest compliance measures.

What is Rat-Hole Mining?

  • Narrow pits (3-4 feet) for one person to enter and extract coal.
  • Miners descend with ropes/ladders and use basic tools.


  • Safety:Unstable tunnels, poor ventilation, lack of safety gear.
    • 2018: 15 miners died in East Jaintia Hills district.
  • Environment:Land degradation, deforestation, water pollution.
    • Acidification of Kopili river flowing through Meghalaya and Assam.
  • Loss of Life:Hazardous conditions lead to frequent accidents and fatalities.
  • Child Labor:Children employed due to small tunnel size.


  • Limited Livelihood Options:Few alternatives for miners in some areas.
  • Lack of Enforcement:Rat-hole mining is a main revenue source for some regions.
  • Poverty:Economic hardship drives people to dangerous work.
  • Economic Viability:No cheaper method for thin coal seams in hilly terrain.

Committee Findings:

  • Acid mine drainage harms communities near mines.
  • Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF) underutilized.
  • Transportation of verified coal to depots incomplete.

Way Forward:

  • Utilize ₹500 crore funds for ecological restoration.
  • Conduct drone survey to locate illegally mined coal after transport completion.
  • Seize illegal coal deposits under the Mines and Minerals Act.


Source : https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/panel-flags-lack-of-progress-in-reversing-meghalaya-coal-mining-damage/article68167935.ece

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *