Staff Correspondent

East Jaintia Hills district police is seeking the assistance of technology to monitor illegal coal mining activities in the remote areas following the death of six coal miners in the district.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune telephonically, East Jaintia Hills district Superintendent of Police, Deepak Palecha said it’s virtually impossible to monitor every corner of the district and so assistance of technology would be required.

“We are asking for drone technology so that we can monitor remote areas of the district,” he said. The district police chief added that the drones would be a force multiplier.

This decision has been taken after the death of the six coal miners in East Jaintia Hills district. Five out of the six bodies have been identified as miners from Assam. The identity of the sixth miner is yet to be ascertained.

Although the district police say that there were no traces of coal found in the pit where the bodies were found, the relatives of the dead miners have claimed that they were working in the coal mines of the district for the past six months.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and other senior Cabinet ministers had to reluctantly admit that there may be some illegal coal mining activities still on in the State and the police are trying to stop such illegalities.

“We are regularly conducting mobile checks and setting up verification check gates in different parts of the district to check illegal mining and transportation of coal with our limited resources,” Palecha said.

He too admitted there may be some aberrations and some illegal mining may be carried out in remote parts of the districts for which use of technology would be useful.

This late realisation on use of technology is rather baffling as the North East Space Application Centre has offered its help to the State Government for quite some time. NESAC did provide satellite imagery to the NGT-constituted committee of Justice (retired) BP Katoki, which proved beyond doubt illegal coal mining activities.

It also raises questions on how this illegally mined coal is being transported through several check gates administered by police, Directorate of Mineral Resources and the district administration in the State.

“The police have two check gates in the district and we only allow coal laden trucks to pass through when they have challans issued by the district administration,” Palecha said.