Wokha, 27 January (MTNews): Six people lost their lives and four others sustained injuries in a fire outbreak within a rathole coal mine on 25 January in Wokha district.
Rathole mining, a banned method of coal extraction in India since 2014 due to its notorious risks, continues to operate illegally, despite the dangers it poses. This tragic event mirrors a similar catastrophe in Meghalaya in 2018, where 15 miners met a grim fate under comparable circumstances.
The exact cause of the fire remains uncertain. While officials suspect a generator explosion triggered by leakage, some locals attribute the fire to gas emissions within the mine.
The New Indian Express has quoted police officials saying no safety measures were being followed in the mine. Even fire extinguishers were not available at the time of the incident that happened in the Ruchanyan village of the district. The deceased belonged to Assam’s Devipur, Sonapur, and Dayalpur villages which lie on Assam-Nagaland border.
In a significant development, authorities have apprehended two individuals identified as the mine owners, as reported by The Hindustan Times.
Nagaland MLA Achumbemo Kikon while speaking to a local TV condemned the recurring accidents, emphasizing the urgent need for stringent measures to ensure safer mining practices.
“This is not the first coal mine accident in my constituency and it will not be the last if the government does not take stern steps for scientific mining,” he said.
Kikon, representing the Naga People’s Front, alleged that the ‘illegal’ rathole mining had been going on for quite some time and he had even raised the issue with the state government but to no avail.
“The State government must take pre-emptive steps so that proper guidelines are followed and coal extracted scientifically, causing minimum damage to the environment. Otherwise, the system will collapse,” he said.