The Meghalaya government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the families of the victims, who were trapped inside a rat hole mine in December 2018 and are still untraced, have consented to call off search operations.
16 miners had gone missing in an illegal rat hole mine located at Ksan near the Lytein River in East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. This happened after water from the Lytein River gushed into the rat hole mine.
In January 2019, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and Meghalaya government to continue multi-agency operation to rescue the miners. So far only two bodies have been retrieved.
In April 2019, an interim relief package of Rs 3 lakh was paid to the miners’ family members. However, the families had claimed that the amount was too less for their sustenance.
Rat Hole Mining is mining procedure which involve digging of very small tunnel of only 3-4 feet high for extracting coal. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned rat hole mining in 2014. The ban was on grounds of the practice being unscientific and unsafe for workers.
However, the orders of the Tribunal has been repeatedly violated and the State Government has failed to check illegal mining effectively.