From Sannio C Siangshai
JOWAI: In a bizarre incident, the staff of the primary health centre (PHC) in Rymbai village of East Jaintia Hills district had to rush out of the building following sudden appearance of cracks in and around the building on Monday afternoon.
The cracks which appeared on the Earth’s surface in the PHC premises between 2.30 pm to 3.00 pm also forced those residing in the staff quarters to leave the dilapidated structure in a hurry.
The unscientific rat-hole mining in the mineral rich East Jaintia Hills is seen as the reason behind the incident.
This scribe, who visited the spot on Tuesday, found several cracks in the PHC building. A labourer working in the PHC premises said that the cracks appeared suddenly putting everyone into panic.
“I saw it with my own eyes, the building (staff quarter) went down as though it was about to collapse. The residents rushed out with all their belongings fearing that the earth’s surface might give away,” said a woman who ran a tea stall within the PHC premises.
No PHC staff was available for comment.
In a similar incident in November 2011, several cracks had appeared on the earth’s surface and a PWD road along with a residential building at Sohkymphor market was damaged.
Under rat-hole mining, coal is being extracted from a particular area leaving some portion of coal in the form of a pillar in order to support the weight of the earth. The pillar is usually left in a gap of 5 to 10 metre each. Finally, the remaining portion of coal that act as pillars are also extracted and a strong wooden log is placed to act as a new pillar. After few years, when the log becomes old and rotten, the earth goes down as the log can no more support its weight resulting in cracks on the surface.
Meanwhile, sources informed that a meeting was held on the issue between the Dorbar Shnong, the doctors and staff of the PHC on Tuesday.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, the Rangbah Shnong of Rymbai, Sunshine Lyngdoh said, “We have taken the matter seriously and the same would be discussed in the village Dorbar.”
President of the Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM) in Jaintia Hills,
Shaniah Suchen demanded that the coal mine owners in the area should take responsibility for the incident.
“Even the Dorbar Shnong is responsible for the episode as it allowed mining activities in the residential area,” he added.
The site which originally belonged to the Rymbai Presbyterian Church was handed over to the Health department by the village authority for setting up of the PHC.