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In Pictures: India's deadly coal pits
In Meghalaya province, miners descend deep underground often without proper safety equipment.
Last updated: 11 Jan 2014 14:34
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The coal mining industry in India is more than 200 years old. It continues to be a major driving force for internal migration and attracts labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh, particularly the coalmines in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

Meghalaya has total coal reserves of 576 million tones.

The private mining industry uses primitive surface method known as “rat-hole mining”. The ground vegetation is cleared and pits of five to 100 square metre are dug to reach the coal seams.

The workers climb down rickety bamboo ladders and use no safety gear. They clamour through two-feet-high tunnels clawing for coal with traditional tools.

The indigenous landowners control mining.

"Labourers from various parts of eastern and north-eastern India work in the mines. But high demand for cheap labour is attracting more migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh," says Ram Jajodia, a labour contractor.

"Accidents are common, major ones are reported. Most are silenced or quietly buried, especially if they are illegal immigrants," he said.

In October, Meghalaya government released a report saying, 19,000 Bangladeshi infiltrators were detected in the state in less than six years. Most of them were working in the coalmines of Jaintia hills.

"Hunger drove us from our homes. The coal industry offers so many job opportunities, all you need to do is work hard," says Mehdi, who is from Bangladesh.

He asked only to use his first name because he has no work permit. "We just cross the border," he said.

Five years ago, Ram Bahadur came to India along with his three brothers from western Nepal.

"It is hard labour and often there are accidents, but the money is worth it," says Bahadur. He spends six to eight months a year working in the coal mines of Meghalaya.

"The men in our families plan to work in the mines till we are strong and healthy. Once I save enough I will no longer take the risks," he says.

He hopes to settle in his village and maybe buy a plot of land and farm vegetables.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
The crudely built-rat-hole mines of Meghalaya attract migrant labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
The miners use primitive tools and wear no safety gear.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Indigenous people of Meghalaya privately own the mines and mining is not regulated.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Most work as day labourers and earn $100-$200 a month.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
We just tie a cotton towel on our heads and tuck in a torch, and sometimes wear a pair of rain boots in the name of safety,†says Gokul Bhandari, a migrant from Nepal.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
There is no medical or life insurance for workers.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
If there is an accident we are paid Rs 6,000-8,000 ($100-120) as compensation. Sometimes nothing,†says Khalid Mustafa, a worker from Bangladesh.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Sayed left his family in Bangladesh. He says:†If I donít get a job here I will go to coal mines in other states, there will always be demand for cheap labour.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Most accidents are not reported and there is no official data about accidents and deaths.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Coal is unscientifically mined in Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
In July, the Meghalaya chief minister announced the government plans to overhaul the states Mines and Mineral Policy 2012, which allows miners to continue with rat-hole mining.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Risk is better than hunger,†says Azmal, 18, who hails from Bangladesh.



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captions:
The crudely built-rat-hole mines of Meghalaya attract migrant labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh.;*;The miners use primitive tools and wear no safety gear.;*;Indigenous people of Meghalaya privately own the mines and mining is not regulated.;*;Most work as day labourers and earn $100-$200 a month.;*;We just tie a cotton towel on our heads and tuck in a torch, and sometimes wear a pair of rain boots in the name of safety,†says Gokul Bhandari, a migrant from Nepal.;*;There is no medical or life insurance for workers.;*;If there is an accident we are paid Rs 6,000-8,000 ($100-120) as compensation. Sometimes nothing,†says Khalid Mustafa, a worker from Bangladesh.;*;Sayed left his family in Bangladesh. He says:†If I donít get a job here I will go to coal mines in other states, there will always be demand for cheap labour.;*;Most accidents are not reported and there is no official data about accidents and deaths.;*;Coal is unscientifically mined in Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills.;*;In July, the Meghalaya chief minister announced the government plans to overhaul the states Mines and Mineral Policy 2012, which allows miners to continue with rat-hole mining. ;*;Risk is better than hunger,†says Azmal, 18, who hails from Bangladesh. Daylife ID:
b7412f26ebf3abad38f62c337f19844e
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
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In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsThe coal mining industry in India is more than 200 years old. It continues to be a major driving force for internal migration and attracts labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh, particularly the coalmines in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pitsen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Sat, 11 Jan 2014 14:14:44 GMTIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/fc3e1b7eae3be2a2188d9cc750df1fccThe crudely built-rat-hole mines of Meghalaya attract migrant labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/fc3e1b7eae3be2a2188d9cc750df1fccBijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsThe crudely built-rat-hole mines of Meghalaya attract migrant labourers from Nepal and Bangladesh.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/4b331943af464dabf49df8087ad552f9The miners use primitive tools and wear no safety gear.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/4b331943af464dabf49df8087ad552f9Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsThe miners use primitive tools and wear no safety gear.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/651626cc37fe11f03d9e37a0ad813159Indigenous people of Meghalaya privately own the mines and mining is not regulated.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/651626cc37fe11f03d9e37a0ad813159Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsIndigenous people of Meghalaya privately own the mines and mining is not regulated.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/49727564ed8fe40bb0f6fb5bcbe6e7a2Most work as day labourers and earn $100-$200 a month.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/49727564ed8fe40bb0f6fb5bcbe6e7a2Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsMost work as day labourers and earn $100-$200 a month.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/b14306acc5f46f534619abf38fa82ff4We just tie a cotton towel on our heads and tuck in a torch, and sometimes wear a pair of rain boots in the name of safety,†says Gokul Bhandari, a migrant from Nepal.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/b14306acc5f46f534619abf38fa82ff4Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsWe just tie a cotton towel on our heads and tuck in a torch, and sometimes wear a pair of rain boots in the name of safety,†says Gokul Bhandari, a migrant from Nepal.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/5f4106c11c066054dac781b5b3929fe1There is no medical or life insurance for workers.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/5f4106c11c066054dac781b5b3929fe1Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsThere is no medical or life insurance for workers.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/7727fcebf5916c778e564d79cd8dd955If there is an accident we are paid Rs 6,000-8,000 ($100-120) as compensation. Sometimes nothing,†says Khalid Mustafa, a worker from Bangladesh.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/7727fcebf5916c778e564d79cd8dd955Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsIf there is an accident we are paid Rs 6,000-8,000 ($100-120) as compensation. Sometimes nothing,†says Khalid Mustafa, a worker from Bangladesh.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/cc597c492f5afdf2459ea8c11a133411Sayed left his family in Bangladesh. He says:†If I donít get a job here I will go to coal mines in other states, there will always be demand for cheap labour.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/cc597c492f5afdf2459ea8c11a133411Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsSayed left his family in Bangladesh. He says:†If I donít get a job here I will go to coal mines in other states, there will always be demand for cheap labour.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/c02a3ba9bb4032dad443356ae25c9817Most accidents are not reported and there is no official data about accidents and deaths.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/c02a3ba9bb4032dad443356ae25c9817Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsMost accidents are not reported and there is no official data about accidents and deaths.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/cb1c7a8248e8c7a0f4e07911e14b81f0Coal is unscientifically mined in Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/cb1c7a8248e8c7a0f4e07911e14b81f0Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsCoal is unscientifically mined in Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills.In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/7de75d9943708ee3ca4448b9603dfd74In July, the Meghalaya chief minister announced the government plans to overhaul the states Mines and Mineral Policy 2012, which allows miners to continue with rat-hole mining. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/7de75d9943708ee3ca4448b9603dfd74Bijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsIn July, the Meghalaya chief minister announced the government plans to overhaul the states Mines and Mineral Policy 2012, which allows miners to continue with rat-hole mining. In Pictures: India's deadly coal pitshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/22fe2778808552b13827904dc26bf78aRisk is better than hunger,†says Azmal, 18, who hails from Bangladesh.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/In_Pictures%3A_India%27s_deadly_coal_pits/slideshow/in-pictures-indias-deadly-coal-pits/22fe2778808552b13827904dc26bf78aBijoyeta Das/Al JazeeraIn Pictures: India's deadly coal pitsRisk is better than hunger,†says Azmal, 18, who hails from Bangladesh.

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