(PT365)- Comprehensive study on Environment For prelim and Mains ( Current+ static)
RAT-HOLE MINING CONTEXT Recently, the collapse of a coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills in which 15 workers were trapped, has thrown the spotlight on a procedur e known as rat-hole mining" About rat-hole mining It involves digging of very small tunnels, usually only 3-4 feet high, wi thout any pillars to prevent collapse, in which workers (often children) enter and extract coal. . The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned it in 2014 on grounds of it being unscientific and unsafe for workers. However, the state governm ent appealed the order in the Supreme Court . Even after ban, it remains the prevalent procedure for coal mining in Meghalaya as no other method would be economically viable in Meghal aya, where the coal seam is extremely thin
Negative impacts of Rat Hole Mining Environmental Degradation: It has caused the water in the Kopili river (flows through Meghalaya and Assam) to turn acidic. Pollution: Roadsides used for piling of coal leads to air, water and soil pollution. Exploitation of workers: Maximum mining in Meghalaya is from rat hol e mining where workers put their lives in danger but benefits are corne red by few private individuals. . Risk to Lives: Rat-holes mines without adequate safety measures pos e high risk to miner's lives. According to one estimate, one miner dies i n these rat-holes mines every 10 days. Fueling illegal activities: Illegal money earned from these unlawful mi nes also end up fueling insurgency in the state. Encouraging Child Labor: According to a Shillong based NGO, rat-hole mining employs 70,000 child laborers.
Why does it continue? Political Influence: Maximum politicians are either owners of mines or have stakes in the largely unregulated coal mining and transportation i ndustry Populism: Directly and indirectly about 2.5 lakh people are dependent on rat-hole mining economy, having influence on 16 out of 60 assembl y seats. .Lack of Adequate Policy: The NGT finds The Meghalaya Mines and Min eral Policy, 2012 inadequate. The policy does not address rat-hole mini ng and Use of Violence by mafia: Anyone who reports on these illegal mining activities is met with violence.
.Lack of alternative Employment opportunities: It forces people to work in these dangerous mines. .Lack of Monitoring: Mining activities are spread across too vast an are a spreading over four districts. . Legal Framework: Mining activities are a state subject, but safety of mine workers is a central subject which creates problems in implement ation of safety policies. Misuse of Sixth Schedule Provisions: The 6th Schedule of the Constitu tion intends to protect the community's ownership over its land and th e community's autonomy and consent over its nature of use.
Advantages of Rat-hole mining . Less Capital Intensive: This type of mining when done in a scientific w ay, with suitable equipment is less capital intensive. Less Polluting: Unlike big mine fields which leave the nearby area nea rly uninhabitable, rat-hole mines are less polluting to soil, air and wate r. . Easy self-employment: rat-hole mining provides easy self-employmen t to people
Coal Mine Safety in India .In India, the operations in Coalmines are regulated by the Mines Act 1 952, Mine Rules 1955, Coal Mine Regulation-1957 and several other statutes framed thereaft er. Directorate-General of Mines Safety (DGMS) under the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment (MOL&E) is entrusted to administer these stat utes. .One of the reasons why the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act was enac ted in 1973, taking over private sector mines, was their poor safety rec ords. Yet, work at public sector mines remains highly dangerous
The frequency of incidents has increased in the recent years, as flagg ed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its 2014 report titled 'Views on Mine Safety in India', When it comes to coal mining accidents, India has a higher proportion of deaths resulting from strata fall than from the use of explosives, whi ch account for the bulk of the accidents in countries such as China and the US
GANGETIC DOLPHIN Context Recently, study showed that rising salinity in Sunderbans region of Indi a is causing a decrease in population of the Ganges River Dolphins. About Gangetic dolphins It inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu ri ver systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. .It is among the four freshwater dolphins found in the world the other three are found in the Yangtze River (China), the 'bhulan' of the Indus (Pakistan) and the 'boto' of the Amazon River (Latin America).
The presence of Dolphins in a river system signals a healthy ecosyste m. Since the river dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food chain, its p resence in adequate numbers symbolizes greater biodiversity in the riv er system and helps keep the ecosystem in balance.