Meghalaya village turns an oasis in coal mine desert


  • Rat-hole coal mining had sucked the life out of Moolamylliang less than a decade ago. 
  • The village in the East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya has now risen like the proverbial phoenix to become a clean, green dot in a vast black blot.
  • The progress has been good enough for people in the mining-ravaged area to believe all is not lost amid abandoned pits and coal-blackened earth.
  • The Jaintia Coal Miners and Dealers’ Association claims there are some 60,000 coal mines across 360 villages in East Jaintia Hills district. 
  • Moolamylliang used to be one such village until the National Green Tribunal banned rat-hole mining in April 2014
  • Rat-hole mining is a term used for a hazardous and arduous mining technique where miners crawl into winding underground tunnels that are just 4-5 feet in diameter to extract coal from the deep seams with a pickaxe.
  • Though the NGT ban did not stop illegal mining in the district, it helped Moolamylliang reform - in part because unregulated mining had contaminated its farmlands and turned the streams acidic, and also because the village dorbar, or traditional governing body, had a change of guard.


National Green Tribunal Act

  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • It draws inspiration from the India's constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment. Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is a department to control pollution in Delhi.
  • The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • NGT is also not bound by the rules of evidence as enshrined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
  • It will be relatively easier for conservation groups to present facts and issues before the NGT, including pointing out technical flaws in a project, or proposing alternatives that could minimize environmental damage but which have not been considered.
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