Silkyara tunnel rescuers resort to traditional mining method: Rat-hole mining explained

  • | Tuesday | 28th November, 2023

NEW DELHI: On Monday, a team of six rat-hole miners from UP joined the operation to rescue 41 trapped workers inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. They will manually dig their way and are expected to cover the 10-12 metres of rubble left to reach the trapped workers in tunnel in 24 to 36 hours.One of the six has told TOI: "Well have no issue of claustrophobia as we have worked inside smaller tunnels."What is rat-hole miningThe manual excavation method employed in the Silkyara tunnel is distinct from rat-hole mining. Only individuals with specialised skills in tunneling, referred to as rat-hole miners, have been mobilised for this taskRat-hole mining is a procedure that entails the excavation of extremely narrow tunnels, typically around 3-4 feet in depth, within which workers, often children, enter to extract coalRat-hole mining is predominantly practiced in Meghalaya due to the challenging terrain and the specific characteristics of coal found in this regionIn 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned it, citing concerns about its unscientific nature and the safety risks posed to workersDespite the ban imposed by the NGT, unauthorised rat-hole mining continues, leading to unfortunate fatalities in MeghalayaMiners descend hundreds of feet into these horizontal tunnels to extract coal. These mines are established and operated using rudimentary equipmentThere are two types of rat-hole miningSide CuttingNarrow tunnels are excavated into the hill slopes, and workers enter these openings to locate the coal seamBox CuttingRectangular openings are created, ranging in size from 10 to 100 square metresUttarkashi Tunnel Rescue Day 17: 6 Rat-Hole Miners Join Ops, 36 Mtr of Vertical Drilling CompleteWatch Uttarkashi tunnel collapse update: Now, a team of Rat Miners to help in rescue of trapped men

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