Wednesday, July 09, 2014

An end to India's 'Wild West'? Meghalaya bans coal mining... for now

Unregulated mining ended lives, trashed environment, may be up for renewal in August

Meghalaya, a state in India’s northeast, has thick forests above ground and valuable minerals below. Coal occurs in a narrow belt from the lower western end of the state across to the eastern end. Uncontrolled mining in the area has cleared forests, degraded rivers, and led to many accidents and deaths as few health and safety standards exist for mine workers. A ban effected earlier this year halted all mining in the state, but is set to be reconsidered at a hearing scheduled for August. 

The All Dimsa Students’ Union and Dimsa Hasao District Committee of Assam filed a petition before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 2, 2014. They alleged coal mining upriver in Meghalaya had polluted the River Kopili, affecting people downriver in Assam. On April 17, the NGT stopped all coal mining and transport of coal within the state. 

Trucks hauling mined coal over the Lukha River. Photo by Rajkamal Goswami. 

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