It’s a shame how crores of Indians prayed religiously for the safety of the Thai boys trapped in a cave but failed to see the similar plight of Meghalaya miners. This wasn’t a conscious decision but lack of knowledge and interest.
In the era of social media, this news failed to become viral and thus, didn’t get the attention it deserved.
The Khasi-Jaintia people of Meghalaya have been known to be mining for over 2000 years. The technology used for mining iron ore is similar to that used in Uttar Pradesh. Only about a decade back did a few polish scientists discover the mineral in that area.
The land in Meghalaya belongs to the “people.” This includes land vested with communities, clans and individuals. Under the protection of the Sixth Schedule, where not just the land but everything under it also belongs to the people, a free-for-all mining exercise started without any technological know-how but using the traditional unscientific mining practices.
“When a PIL was filed by a student’s body in Assam in 2014, citing that acid mine drainage has rendered the waters flowing downstream into Assam from Meghalaya has become toxic, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned further mining of coal in Meghalaya but allowed the extracted coal to be transported after it was duly assessed. This was a flawed exercise because the NGT did not have resources to monitor if coal mining continued after the ban, which it did. “ reports news18.
“And indeed the 17 miners trapped inside a mine in Jaintia Hills even now where the rescue operations continue were involved in coal mining by violating the NGT ban. “ news 18.
Lack of media attention, timely government support and failure on the citizens’ part of gather momentum to put this practice to end is how we failed as a country.
By Abhishek Aggarwal