On the fateful day of December 13, 2018, fifteen miners in Meghalaya were trapped in the illegal “rat-hole” coal mine on December 13 last year at Ksan, in the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it. Seven of the 15 trapped labourers hail from West Garo Hills district, five from Assam and three from the remote Lumthari village, where the accident took place.
This incident evoked nationwide attention towards the rampant menace of illegal coal mining in the state of Meghalaya.
It may be mentioned that several miners die due to accidents in the mines per year in India, especially coal mining and hard rock mining. Deaths inside the mines occur due to many causes including leaks of poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulphide or explosive natural gases, especially firedamp or methane, dust explosions, collapsing of mine stopes, Mining Induced Seismicity, flooding, or general mechanical errors from improperly used or malfunctioning mining equipment.
Below are some mining disasters which shook India in the past:
** 1965 Dhanbad coal mine disaster: The 1965 Dhanbad coal mine disaster occurred on May 28, 1965, in a coal mine near Dhanbad, a town in India. On the fateful day, there was an explosion in Dhori colliery near Dhanbad, which led to fire in the mines. The fire killed 268 miners. Dhori colliery is located near Bermo. The mine was at that time privately owned by the Raja of Ramgarh.
** 1975 Chasnala mining disaster: The Chasnala mining disaster took place on December 27, 1975 in a coal mine in Chasnala near Dhanbad in the Indian state of Jharkhand. An explosion in the mine followed by flooding killed 380 miners.
When a roof of coal caved in, 7 million imperial gallons (32,000 m3) of water per minute flooded into the mine. The miners were trapped under a mountain of debris and drowned when the water surged into the mine. The Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO), which owned the mine, said it conformed to international standards.
Amitabh Bachchan starrer Bollywood film Kaala Patthar depicts this tragedy. Shaheed Smarak was built in the memory of the victims.