Meghalaya introduces mining policy, silent on rat-hole mining

SHILLONG: The Meghalaya cabinet today gave nod to the much-awaited mining policy even as it ruled out doing away with the unscientific rat-hole mining, which is facing widespread opposition.

"Meghalaya now has a mining policy," Chief Minister Mukul Sangma announced after an exhaustive Cabinet meeting which was attended by his Cabinet colleagues and senior government officials.

He said, "We are happy that we could deliberate on this before the Cabinet could consider the proposal and approve the policy."

The 25 paragraph policy has provisions for proper and scientific mining operations of minerals in the state, Mining and Geology minister B M Lanong said, adding the policy would allow the government to step in and regulate mining activities in the state.

Informing that the policy has accepted rat-hole mining of coal practiced predominantly in the state, Lanong said, "There will be war between the stakeholders, miners and the government if we do away with the rat-hole mining practices".

Rat-hole mining is a primitive method that entails clearing ground vegetation and digging pits ranging from five to 100 square metres to reach the coal seams.

He, however, said the policy would provide scope for mining of minerals in a more scientific and sustainable manner taking into account the interest of the state and its people.

"We want to minimise the adverse effect of mineral development on environment and ecology by adopting appropriate preventive measures and ensuring that mining operations is done considering the safety and health of all concerns," the minister said.