Supreme Court Hauls Up Meghalaya Government For Failing To Stop Rat Hole Coal Mining, Refuses to Give More Time

Illegal rat hole coal mines in Meghalaya.

New Delhi: 

In a big blow to the mining lobby in Meghalaya, the Supreme Court today refused to give more time to mine owners to transport the coal already extracted. The top court hauled up the Meghalaya government for “failing to curb rampant illegal mining” in the state.

“The present incident (15 miners trapped in rat hole mines) shows illegal mining continues despite the ban and the state may not be supporting it but has failed to contain illegal mining,” the Supreme Court said.

The Meghalaya government has been seeking time since 2014, to allow transportation of coal despite the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) ban on rat hole mining. The state had told the court earlier that the coal that was being transported was already extracted before the NGT ban.

In 2014, the NGT had banned mining but allowed transportation of the extracted coal. Mining companies had moved Supreme Court, after the green watchdog in 2015 stopped transportation and since then have been seeking extensions for transportation of coal. Today the top court said, “Despite several extensions, you are seeking more time and this means illegal mining is still going on.”

It is over a month since 15 miners have been trapped in an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district. Hope fades as not a single miner has yet been rescued. Sources in the Meghalaya government have told NDTV that the rescue operations are still on but in near future it “may be called off” as there are no indications about the state of the 15 men.

The coal mine owners of Meghalaya enjoy the backing of top politicians in the state, say reports. According to a Citizens’ Report prepared by civil society groups, many politicians including Vincent Pala of the Congress, four ministers in the Conrad Sangma government and seven non-National People’s Party (NPP) legislators are either coal barons or their families have business interests in mining. The most prominent among them is Kyrmen Shylla, lawmaker from Khliehriat, the headquarters of the East Jaintia Hills district and a key cabinet minister in-charge of disaster management department.

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NASA Telescopes Capture Birth of Black Hole or Neutron Star

An international team of astronomers, using NASA telescopes, have captured the first ever image of a star that collapsed to form a compact object, and are debating whether it is a black hole or a neutron star.

NASA’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System telescope in Hawaii picked up a brief and unusual burst in the night sky on June 16, 2018, the US space agency said in a statement

The celestial outburst -called AT2018cow and nicknamed “the Cow” – occurred inside or near a star-forming galaxy known as CGCG 137-068, located about 200 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. 

For over three days, the Cow produced a sudden explosion of light at least 10 times brighter than a typical supernova, and then it faded over the next few months, NASA said. 

The stellar debris, approaching and swirling around the object’s event horizon, caused the remarkably bright glow.

Using data from multiple NASA missions, including the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), a team of scientists speculate that the Cow is a monster black hole shredding a passing star. 

In a paper forthcoming in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, they say that the shredded star was a white dwarf – a hot, roughly Earth-sized stellar remnant marking the final state of stars like our Sun. 

“The Cow produced a large cloud of debris in a very short time,” said Paul Kuin, an astrophysicist at University College London (UCL). 

“Shredding a bigger star to produce a cloud like this would take a bigger black hole, result in a slower brightness increase and take longer for the debris to be consumed.” 

Another team of scientists, analysing data from multiple observatories, including NASA’s NuSTAR, ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL satellites, and the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array, claimed that it is a supernova — a stellar explosion — could be the source of the Cow. 

“We saw features in the Cow that we have never seen before in a transient, or rapidly changing object,” said Raffaella Margutti, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

In the study, forthcoming in The Astrophysical Journal, they propose that the bright optical and ultraviolet flash from the Cow signalled a supernova and that the X-ray emissions that followed shortly after the outburst arose from gas radiating energy as it fell onto a compact object.

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Meghalaya Rat Hole Mine Rescue: On Day 19, Navy Divers Reach Bottom Of Mine

Meghalaya: All the three teams – Navy, NDRF and OFS – are coordinating the operation today

Guwahati/New Delhi:  On New Year’s Eve, a diver of the navy finally reached the bottom of the 370-feet rat hole mine in Meghalaya where 15 men have been trapped for the last 19 days. But none of the trapped men were to be seen. All they saw was coal at the mouth of one lateral rat hole and mud at the bottom of the pit. Navy officers said a search will be possible only when all the water has been drained out of the network of rat holes. That operation will take time, even though the heavy-duty pumps arrived on Saturday afternoon. The first pump brought in by the Odisha fire service officials started operating this evening.

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NDRF Commandant SK Sastri On Meghalaya Rat Hole Mine

Meghalaya rat hole mine: Over 15 miners are trapped in the illegal mine in Meghalaya


The operation to rescue over 15 people trapped inside a “rat hole” coal mine in Meghalaya for the last 15 days is one of the most challenging the National Disaster Response Force has seen, its commandant SK Sastri told NDTV.

The Meghalaya government has said time is running out to save the men trapped in the flooded mine, which had been operating illegally. Divers have been searching for the miners.

“It is one of the most challenging operations in the history of the NDRF. Our divers are not trained for this kind of a situation,” said Mr Sastri, who is leading the 1st Battalion of the NDRF for the rescue operation at East Jaintia Hills.

The illegal coal mine at Ksan in the district’s Saipung area had collapsed on December 12, following which it was flooded by water from the adjacent Lytein river.

“The initial information we got about the incident was insufficient. The mine is extremely deep and a huge volume of water keeps flooding the mine even after pumping it out,” he said. Recent rain in the area made matters worse.


The NDRF rescue teams have been pumping out water from the rat hole mine in Meghalaya

He said the illegal mine is interlinked with other abandoned mines in the area and the river.

“Rat hole mines are not mapped, so the NDRF doesn’t know what’s below. There is no safety system in such mines,” Mr Sastri said. “We are hopeful of finding them, dead or alive,” he added.

Water from multiple sources is still entering the mine, further complicating the rescue operation, people familiar with the matter said. While the water had reached a height of 70 feet on Monday, NDRF divers armed with sonar devices and high-calibre lights could only descend to a depth of 30 feet earlier this week.

“The coal was soft. We could understand that there was water seepage that has made it soft. The sardar (manager) knew which part of the mine had more water. He stopped us from using two seats of the mine because there were chances of the floor caving in and water gushing inside,” Sayeb Ali, 22, who was on duty at the mine that morning, had told NDTV.

The National Green Tribunal banned coal mining in Meghalaya in 2014 after environmental activists complained it was responsible for severe water pollution. But the practice continues with locals illegally extracting coal using the dangerous “rat hole” mines.

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India vs Australia: Mitchell Starc Feels Australia Shouldn’t Have Let India Wriggle Out Of Hole

The India vs Australia series started in dramatic fashion at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday as Cheteshwar Pujara scored his first Test century on Australian soil. With Virat Kohli failing to deliver, Pujara ensured he anchored the Indian innings and propelled them to 250/9 at the end of day’s play. Looking back at the entire course of play on Day 1, paceman Mitchell Starc felt that Australia had India on the mat and shouldn’t have allowed the control to slip.

“I thought we bowled really well for four hours, probably pretty well for another hour and probably got it a bit wrong at the end there,” Starc told reporters after the first day’s action. “Cheteshwar Pujara batted a lot of time. He’s someone who likes to absorb pressure and bat a long time, and credit to him he scored a fantastic hundred today.

“I think if you asked us at the start of the day if we’d take losing the toss and India being 9 for 250 at stumps I think we’d bite your arm off.”

Asked about the wicket, which Pujara said was difficult to bat on, Starc commented: “You can’t judge a wicket until both teams have had a crack. One good day isn’t going to win a series. It’s going to go a long way to helping win a Test but it’s nothing to win a series.

“I think we’ve planned and prepared really well for this week and had a lot of vision to look at, and how India have played in the past.

“They did go quite hard (at the ball) but we bowled exceptionally well for the first four hours, especially when the ball got soft and stopped moving around, the scoreboard never got away from us,” Starc said about keeping the run-rate under control.”

Pat Cummins affected a brilliant run out to dismiss Pujara on the last ball of the day.

Talking about the run-out, Starc said: “It was a special moment for him, especially after a long day in the field. It was a good little effort from him.

“Usman Khawaja 3.0 isn’t it? He’s on fire,” Starc said.

 “He’s made a huge effort over the last nine months I guess and it’s showing in his batting and now it’s showing in his fielding. A great catch and probably one he’ll keep bringing up now as well, so a great effort from him.

“It was a great catch and hopefully he’s going to have a great couple of days with the bat as well,” said the pacer.

(With IANS inputs)

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Samsung Galaxy S10+ Concept Renders Show Dual Selfie Cameras, Triple Rear Cameras; Selfie Hole to Be “Slightly Different”

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Concept Renders Show Dual Selfie Cameras, Triple Rear Cameras; Selfie Hole to Be “Slightly Different”

Photo Credit: OnLeaks x 91Mobiles

The hole design on the Galaxy S10+ will be “slightly different” to accommodate the dual selfie cameras.

Samsung is expected to unveil its tenth-generation Galaxy S smartphone series, possibly the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, at MWC 2019 in Barcelona in late February next year. With just about a couple of months to go before the official unveiling, leaks are surfacing online that give out new features of the Galaxy S10 range every other day. A new leak has now revealed the concept renders for the premium Galaxy S10+ model which appears to have a slightly redesigned selfie camera hole. Another report confirms this development. Let’s check out the details.

Tipster OnLeaks, in collaboration with 91Mobiles, gives us a look at what is allegedly the design of the upcoming flagship Samsung Galaxy S10+. 360-degree 5K renders of the smartphone show the presence of the dual selfie camera setup set into holes on the top right of the display panel. At the back, the handset appears to sport a triple rear camera setup with an LED flash and, possibly, a heart rate sensor.

On the bottom, the Galaxy S10+ render reveals a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, and a speaker grille. On top is a microphone and the SIM tray. It still has a dedicated Bixby button on the right. The report goes on to claim that the Samsung Galaxy S10+ will sport a 6.4-inch AMOLED QHD dual-curved edge display. The camera setup on the back is said to consist of a standard lens, a telephoto lens, and a wide angle lens. It will also reportedly feature an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor and ditch Samsung’s iris scanning in favour of a different version of face unlock.

As for internals, the report states, the Galaxy S10+ will get nothing less than the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 8150 SoC in US and China, and the Exynos 9820 SoC in India and other markets.

Next, reputed tipster Ice Universe took to Twitter on Sunday to claim that all of the three models in Samsung’s upcoming series – the Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+ – will sport Super AMOLED screens but the hole design on the Galaxy S10+ will be “slightly different” to accommodate the dual selfie cameras.

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Huawei Nova 4 Launch Set for December 17, Features Display Hole for Selfie Camera

Huawei Nova 4 Launch Set for December 17, Features Display Hole for Selfie Camera

Photo Credit: Weibo

Huawei Nova 4 is expected to sport triple rear cameras

In a bid to take on Samsung’s rumoured Galaxy A8s, Huawei was rumoured to be working on a smartphone with a similar design. Touted to be called the Nova 4, the smartphone is said to come with a display hole for the selfie camera. Now, the company has confirmed that the Huawei Nova 4 will be launched on December 17 in China. Alongside the announcement, the company has published a poster that has the outline of the phone showing off the the pin-hole camera in the front.

Huawei has taken to Weibo to announce that the Huawei Nova 4 will launch on December 17. The smartphone will launch in China, and it will sport a true bezel-less display with no notch. For the front camera, there will be a slight hole in the screen, on the top left edge, where the sensor will be located.

Concept render leaked by Ben Geskin a few days ago suggest that the smartphone will sport a triple vertical camera setup, and a gradient back panel finish. Expected specs include the latest Kirin 980 SoC, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and will run on Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box.

huaweinova4 venyageskin main nova 4

Huawei Nova 4 concept render
Photo Credit: Twitter/ Ben Geskin

To recall, Samsung is also expected to launch its Galaxy A8s in December, and the leaked renders of the smartphone suggest that it will also sport a display with a small cut out for the selfie camera. Samsung announced its new display plans back at SDC, with the Infinity-O type display featuring the hole design.

Huawei looks to compete with Samsung by launching a new smartphone with the same design as the rumoured Galaxy A8s. While Huawei has confirmed that the smartphone will launch on December 17, Samsung is yet to announce a launch date for its Galaxy A8s.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Tipped to Have a Display Hole, Triple Camera Setup

Samsung Galaxy S10 is rumoured to debut with a display hole to have space for the selfie camera alongside managing high screen-to-body ratio. The latest rumour comes days after Samsung showcased its new range of Infinity Display design, including the Infinity-O option that will be related to the display panels carrying a hole. The South Korean company also last month teased the Galaxy A8s as its first few models featuring a display hole design to accommodate the selfie camera. In a separate report, a tipster claimed that a low-end Galaxy S10 model will come with a price tag of as low as $650 (roughly Rs. 46,900). This could be designed to take on the likes of the OnePlus 6T and Xiaomi Mi 8.

Among other details, popular tipster Evan Blass through his renowned @evleaks Twitter account revealed that the Galaxy S10 will have a “punch hole-style” selfie camera cutout and feature an ultrasonic, in-display fingerprint sensor. The display panel is expected to be based on the Infinity-O design that the company unveiled at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC 2018) earlier this month. Also, the arrival of the in-display fingerprint sensor is also likely to finally enable the company to ditch its iris scanning technology that debuted on the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016. The technology was one of the biometric advancements in the smartphone market, though it became mediocre with the arrival of 3D facial recognition technologies such as Apple’s Face ID that projects infrared dots on to a user’s face to unlock the device.

Blass also claims that the Galaxy S10 will have a triple camera setup with support for standard, wide, and telephoto shots. This setup is likely to work similar to the triple camera featured on the Galaxy A7 (2018). However, we’re yet to receive a word on the resolution of the sensors.

In addition to revealing the hardware, Blass mentioned in his tweet that the Galaxy S10 will run One UI on top of Android Pie. Samsung already confirmed that it is bringing One UI to the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9 in January via the Android Pie update. This means while the new proprietary skin will debut on the previous flagships, it will also come with a similar experience on the next-generation Galaxy model.

Following the details leaked by Blass, tipster Ben Geskin has posted a concept image on Twitter that shows two handsets with an offset display hole instead of a traditional display notch. The display panels are also found to have curved edges and two distinct size options, just as the Infinity Display panels available on the Galaxy S9 models.

Geskin has also in a separate tweet mentioned some specifications of the budget Galaxy S10 model that he claims to go on sale within a price bracket of $650 and $750 (roughly between Rs. 46,900 and Rs. 54,100). The budget model is said to have a flat Infinity-O display and a dual camera setup. Geskin also mentions that there will be a side-mounted fingerprint sensor. This suggests the low-end Galaxy S10 won’t have an in-display fingerprint sensor. Further, he says that the phone will come in three configurations – 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage, 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage, and 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage. Moreover, the tipster says that there will be a Snapdragon 845 SoC or Exynos 8150 SoC powering the budget flagship model.

The Galaxy S10 is already rumoured to have multiple variants, and from what Geskin has provided, the low-end model is likely to give a tough competition to Chinese offerings such as the OnePlus 6T and Xiaomi Mi 8. The more expensive models in the Galaxy S10 family, on the other hand, are expected to compete against this year’s and next year’s iPhone models.

Samsung recently announced the Exynos 9820 SoC that is expected to be the powerhouse of the Galaxy S10 next year. The new chip is based on the 8nm LPP (Low Power Plus) FinFET process and comes with an integrated neural processing unit (NPU) to enable on-device processing of artificial intelligence (AI) tasks. It also has a custom CPU that is boost multi-core performance by 15 percent, single core performance by up to 20 percent, and boost power efficiency by up to 40 percent when compared to the Exynos 9810 that powers the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 models.

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Indian Satellite Helps Find Black Hole That Spins Near Maximum Possible Rate

India’s AstroSat helped find a unique black hole in binary star system 4U 1630-47 (Representational)


Scientists using data from India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite, AstroSat, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that a black hole in the binary star system 4U 1630-47 spins close to the maximum possible rate.

Relatively smaller black holes are exotic end states of massive stellar cores, said astronomers led by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai.

The gravity of such a collapsing core is so strong that its entire mass is crushed into a point, according to the research accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

This point, however, cannot be directly seen, because nothing, not even light, can escape from a region around it, thus justifying the name of the object.

Surprisingly, astronomical black holes are the simplest known objects in the universe, because they can be fully characterised by only two properties, mass and spin rate.

Therefore, measurements of these two properties are uniquely important to probe some extreme aspects of the universe, and the fundamental physics related to them, researchers said.

“The scientific measurement of the spin rate of the black  hole, an extremely exotic but the simplest object of the universe, comes out to be close to the maximum possible value,” Sudip Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor at TIFR told news agency PTI.

“This is generally very important to probe some extreme aspects of the universe, and the fundamental physics (for example, the theory of gravitation) related to them,” said Bhattacharyya, who is the Principal Investigator of the AstroSat Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT).

“Such measurements, especially of the spin rate, are very difficult to make, and can be done only by high-quality X-ray observations in the correct state of the binary stellar system, in which the black hole is gobbling matter from its companion star,” said Mayukh Pahari, who started this work at TIFR, before joining the University of Southampton in the UK.

“The SXT and the Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC) aboard the first dedicated Indian astronomy satellite AstroSat played a key role to measure the black hole spin rate, which was consistent with results from our contemporaneous Chandra satellite data,” Mr Bhattacharyya added.

“From this first joint AstroSat-Chandra study of a black hole, that may lead to further such cooperations, we have found that the black hole in 4U 1630-47 spins very rapidly, with a rate not much less than the maximum possible rate, which makes it even more exotic,” added Professor AR Rao of TIFR.

AstroSat was launched in 2015 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the first dedicated astronomy satellite of India, and the SXT aboard AstroSat is the first Indian X-ray telescope.

“In fact, apart from Japan, I believe, India is the first Asian country to build an X-ray Telescope (for example, China could not build such a telescope till now),” Bhattacharyya said.

He noted that this “first cooperation of India and US using AstroSat and Chandra satellites regarding black hole studies should open up ways for future such collaborations.”

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Russia Finds ISS Hole Made Deliberately, Says Space Chief Dmitry Rogozin

The small hole found in August was sealed up quickly. (File)


Russian investigators looking into the origin of a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station have said it was caused deliberately, the space agency chief said.

A first commission had delivered its report, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, said in televised remarks late Monday.

“It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth.”

Rogozin said the commission’s main line of inquiry was that the hole had been drilled deliberately, a position that has been voiced in the past.

“Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now,” he said.

The small hole in the wall of a Russian-made Soyuz space capsule docked onto the ISS was located in August and quickly sealed up.

Officials have suggested a number of possible reasons for the appearance of the hole.

A top government official has denied a Russian media report that the investigation looked at the possibility that US astronauts had drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back to Earth.

The current ISS commander, US astronaut Drew Feustel, called the suggestion that the crew was somehow involved “embarrassing”.

Rogozin — who previously oversaw the space industry as deputy prime minister — was appointed head of Roskosmos last May, in a move analysts said would spell trouble for the embattled sector.

The official, who was placed under US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis in 2014, admitted it had become difficult to work with NASA.

“Problems with NASA have certainly appeared but not through the fault of NASA,” he said, blaming unnamed American officials for telling the US space agency what to do.

He also claimed that SpaceX founder Elon Musk sought to squeeze Russia out of the space launch services market and complained about the US military drone X-37.

“Americans have this thing, the X-37,” Rogozin said. “We don’t understand its purposes. Rather, we do understand, but we have not received an official explanation.

“Essentially, this thing can be used as a weapons carrier.” 

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