A patchwork green and black — hills of glistening coal and forested flats — sprawls over 2,000 sq km in the East Jaintia Hills. The digging, splitting and sorting of coal is ceaseless, as is the coming and going of SUVs loaded with migrant labour. A fine black film covers every inch of Ladrymbai — every aspect of life in this mining town revolves around coal.
Of the 29 candidates for Meghalaya's assembly in the East Jaintia Hills, at least 13 are well known coal mine owners; two have limestone mines. In the constituency of Khliehriat, all five candidates — one each from the Congress and United Democratic Party and three independents — are coal barons.