Shillong, Jan 12 (IANS) Production has been hit in thousands of brick kilns in Bangladesh that are dependent on coal from Meghalaya following an interim ban on the primitive rat-hole mining practice in the northeastern state, a Bangladeshi official said here Monday.
“If coal export does not resume, many brick kilns would be closed. We have requested the Indian authorities to allow import of coal from Meghalaya,” A.B.M. Azad, district magistrate of Bangladesh’s Kurigram, told journalists on the sidelines of the first-of-its kind district magistrate-level meet between India and Bangladesh.
“Almost 60 percent of coal production in thousands of brick kilns that are dependent on coal from Meghalaya has been hit. Therefore, we have requested the Indian authorities to allow import of coal from Meghalaya,” he said.
Azad said the issue was also discussed at the meeting to find out ways to ensure that coal export from Meghalaya resumes so that these brick kilns could maintain their normal production.
Meghalaya exports tonnes of coal to Bangladesh via its 11 land custom stations.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed an interim ban on rat-hole mining, but allowed transportation of extracted coal from Sep 1, 2014.
The April 17 ban came after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the tribunal alleging that the water in the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in the Jaintia Hills.
Mining in Meghalaya is controlled by the indigenous people who own the land. Coal is extracted by a primitive surface mining method called “rat-hole” mining that entails clearing ground vegetation and digging pits. Workers and children go into these holes to extract coal using tools such as pickaxes, shovels and buckets.