Topic – Economic Geography.
1) Despite a ban, rat-hole mining remains a prevalent practice in Meghalaya. Explain what is rat hole mining and the issues associated with it?(250 words)
Why this question
The incident in Meghalaya where miners are trapped in one of the rat hole mines exposes the issues with this unsafe mining practice and also brings out the fact that NGT orders are being violated. It is important to understand what rat hole mining is and the issues associated with it.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to bring out what rat hole mining is, explain the 2014 NGT order regarding the ban on rat hole mining and why such mining practices are still being continued. Finally, we need to discuss ways through which such practices can be stopped.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Explain about the recent incident in Meghalaya which is the reason why rat hole mining is in news.
- Explain what rat hole mining is – involves digging of very small tunnels, usually only 3-4 feet high, which workers (often children) enter and extract coal. Rat-hole mining is broadly of two types – side-cutting procedure, where narrow tunnels are dug on the hill slopes and workers go inside until they find the coal seam, box-cutting, a rectangular opening is made, varying from 10 to 100 sq m, and through that is dug a vertical pit, 100 to 400 feet deep. Once the coal seam is found, rat-hole-sized tunnels are dug horizontally through which workers can extract the coal.
- Explain that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned it in 2014, and retained the ban in 2015, on grounds of it being unscientific and unsafe for workers. The state government has appealed the order in the Supreme Court.
- Discuss the reasons why rat hole mining was banned and the reasons why it continues despite the ban
Conclusion – emphasize on the ill effects of rat hole mining and discuss solutions to the problem.