Six migrant workers from Assam died after they fell into a 150-feet pit in a forest in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, the same district where 15 men disappeared inside an illegal rat-hole mine after it collapsed in December 2018.
Locals alleged the migrant workers whose bodies were found inside the pit this morning were digging an illegal coal mine.
However, government sources said there is no coal mine in the area and the workers were involved in cutting and shaping hard soil for other purposes.
The National Green Tribunal has banned coal mining in Meghalaya.
Accidents in illegal mines in the north-east state raise serious questions about unchecked coal mining right under the government’s nose even after the National Green Tribunal banned it in 2014, environment activists and scientists have said.
Freshly cut blocks of coal being carried on the back of open trucks are often seen running on the state’s highways.
Meghalaya has an estimated 5,000 illegal rat-hole mines, mostly in East Jaintia hills. After coal mining was banned in 2014, there was a slowdown in economic activities by 70 per cent.