Meghalaya to implement new mines and mineral Policy by next year

GUWAHATI: Meghalaya will implement the new mines and mineral Policy by next year. The new policy has made room for joint venture in coal explorations in the state.

The policy has decided to continue with the rat-hole mining. The rat hole mines of Meghalaya is prone to accidents.

These mines are termed as the 'rat mines' of Meghalaya for its crude holes dug into the hills which are narrow in diameter. The indigenous population engages in traditional method of mining and ownership is with the community.

These mines termed as small-scale coal mines, which operate beyond the purview of CoalMines (Nationalisation) Act.

Deputy Chief Minister in-charge of Mining and Geology Bindo Mathew Lanong held meeting after with stakeholders including miners, exporters and environmentalists in Shillong. State cabinet has approved the new policy.

Lanong told ET, "Everybody needs sometime to get familiarize with the new policy. We will implement the new policy by next year."

He added, "I had talk with various stakeholders and it is now felt that there is no alternative to rat hole mining in the state considering the topography of the State. We do not have any other alternative but to continue with the rat hole of mining. Land in the state belongs to the community, clan and individual."

He added the policy has underscored the need for the welfare on the miners. Mine owners would be required to provide proper health care, education, drinking water, safe and hygienic condition of living to the mine workers and their families.

Under the new policy Mineral Advisory Committee comprising of technical experts will be constituted. The minister added that the policy has provided scope for joint venture in exploration and marketing of mineral resource.

Rat hole mining of Meghalya is often attacked for employing childrens in hazardous job and causing serious environmental hazards due unscientific mining.

According to latest inventory of Geological Resources of Coal in India by the Geological Survey of India there is 576 Million Tonnes of coal in Meghalaya. The sub bituminous coal is spread across in South Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and East Khasi Hills.