Illegal miners using hi-tech machinery

Dumper, shovels and pay-loaders are being used on a large scale to mine coal. This is nothing new in mining world, but these set of hi-tech machinery are now being used to extract coal from areas that do not belong to Coal India albeit illegally.

“Illegal mining has seen a major transformation in the last few years. Illegal miners are extracting coal either from abandoned mines in a mechanised way which is of course a safety hazard and are also using the same set of equipment to extract coal from areas that hold coal but do not fall under Coal India’s command area. We cannot do anything about coal being illegally mined from areas that do not fall in our command area,” a senior Coal India official said.

“It is also next to impossible to keep a vigil on abandoned mines since after a mine is shut down all major infrastructure is removed from the location and we lack the manpower to guard such abandoned mines. However, there is a huge safety issue involved. Mines are abandoned mostly because, either it is no more safe or have exhausted the extractable volume of coal. Using heavy machinery in those mines pose a risk,” he said.

“Mining on abandoned mines does not have any viable techni cal solution as of now. However, mining on other areas that do not belong to Coal India could be taken up, however, it is a state and a central subject and the governments need to take a stand,” a senior CIL official said.”The illegal miners may be using hi-tech machinery but they grossly lack safety features which necessarily needs to be undertaken under mining conditions. Accidents could involve being crushed by such machines or pits collapsing on workers while they are underground. It is a potential threat to lives,” he said.

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