Sunday, 24 January 2010

Coal Mines of Nagaland

Young labourer in the depths of a Nagaland coal mine

As you drive into Northern Nagaland the crowded plains of Assam give way to lush and dense jungle covering the unpopulated hills. But occasionally the greenery is broken by some small scale industrial activity, especially mining. Since our guide sensed my interest in these small industrial enterprises in the middle of nowhere he arranged for a stop giving us a chance to descend into the darkness of a coal mine. I don't know exactly how deep these mines are, but my guess is that we went about 20-30 metres down to reach the bottom.

The mine entrance

As with most other basic industries in this part of the world, mining is also a very labour intensive affair with men rather than machines doing most of the work. The workers dig and enforce the pit using very basic manual tools and they drag out the coal in big baskets on their bag. This is hard manual labour and there is no luxurious camp waiting for them once they leave the mine pit. However, they had erected a small shack outside to eat their lunch. Whether they have some small huts to sleep in nearby or whether they drive in from a nearby village every day I don't know.

The miner's lunch shack and a pile of coal

Carrying the coal up. The guy on the right is not a miner - he was our drive

Quite steep descent

Workers at the very bottom of the mine politely stopping their work to pose for photographs...

...but quickly they must go back to their work of re-enforcing the pit with wooden beams. Obviously this picture was taken with flash - the guys work in darkness with only a small light bulb allowing them to see what they are doing.


Arun said...

Thats quite descent! My guess is that mining in Meghalaya is small scale unlike many other places in India, where they use plenty of machinery for these activities. How large was the mine and how many people were working?

sundae konyak said...

hello, i don't know how i got in here.. but i really enjoyed going through da photo. i geared up looking for more... thank u.

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