Jaintia Hills: In South Garo hills in Meghalaya, 15 labourers have managed to escape after being trapped in a coal mine since July 6. But another 15 are still trapped. Official sources said that over 30 miners had gone down to the 100 m pit at Nengkhol village in Nongalbibra area and accidentally punctured the wall of an abandoned mine full of highly acidic water on Friday evening.
As the water from the abandoned mine rushed into the pit, 15 miners managed to escape, the sources said. The rest are still trapped and hopes of getting them out alive were getting dim, they said.
In Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, everyday children are sent into mine pits more than 100 feet deep for mining work. There are more than 5,000 mines illegally taking children in this death ride.
In blatant violation of all laws, exploitation of labour at its worst can be seen in the coal mines of Jaintia hills in Meghalaya.
“I have been working for almost 3 years. Here, who survives, lives on," says a worker. "No risk. Others don't take this risk. We are only responsible for our lives," says Vishnu, coal mine worker.
There is no support system, just a log of wood, no safety belts. During the rainy season it becomes even more slippery and deaths are just part of the job.
Yet even during the rains, children crawl into these holes as money is required to survive..
"It becomes difficult during the rains. But if we don't go, then there is no money to eat. So we force ourselves," Vishnu says.
Unscientific mining in the Jaintia hills in Meghalaya accounts for nearly one lakh metric tonnes of coal being extracted everyday. In peak season it is worth anywhere between Rs 60-70 crore every day. All of this is unregulated, unscientific, private mining. The land is owned by private mine owners.