In order to address the concerns of all stakeholders, Meghalaya government decided to reconsider the state Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012 and implement it after holding wide consultations with them.
It may be recalled that the state Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012 allows miners to continue with rat-hole coal mining.
Most of this coal reserve in the state is mined unscientifically by individuals and communities. Due to unscientific coal mining, the water sources of many rivers, especially in Jaintia Hills district, have turned acidic. Mining activities in Meghalaya are controlled by the indigenous people of the state who own the land.
The government, therefore, decided to examine the state mining policy to establish a joint government-civil society commission to monitor and advise on environmental issues.
Coal is extracted by workers and children by digging rat-holes and going deep into them using traditional tools. Makeshift bamboo ladders take miners down into the pits to chip away through two-feet-high tunnels.
These mines are abandoned and left exposed in several case after extracting the coal. In Cherrapunjee region, once famous for its heaviest rainfall, environmental abuse has almost reduced the region to a barren landscape.