JAINTIA HILLS, INDIA - APRIL 15: Drunk coal workers dance with their Sardar, a mine manager, while celebrating a harvest fest on April 15, 2011 in Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India.... more 
JAINTIA HILLS, INDIA - APRIL 15: Drunk coal workers dance with their Sardar, a mine manager, while celebrating a harvest fest on April 15, 2011 in Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. Market days, a non working day, in towns like Lad Rymbai, are a well-known respite for workers. Towns are lined with stalls selling latest fashions, wine shops, brothels and gambling dens. Teenagers, truck drivers drive up to shop doors as they receive window service for their alcoholic needs. Many are driven to boozing because of the long hours and dangerous conditions. The alcohol is an escape for many. So many, that one wine shop owner in Lad Rymbai, said that he sells on average 15,000 bottles a day, to locals, miners and passing truckers. Lad Rymbai is home to 30 wine shops.The Jaintia hills, located in India's far North East state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. Workers can earn as much as 150 USD per week or 30,000 Rupees per month, significantly higher than the national average of 15 USD per day. After traversing treacherous mountain roads, the coal is delivered to neighbouring Bangladesh and to Assam from where it is distributed all over India, to be used primarily for power generation and as a source of fuel in cement plants. Many workers leave homes in neighbouring states, and countries, like Bangladesh and Nepal, hoping to escape poverty and improve their quality of life. Some send money back to loved ones at home, whilst many others squander their earnings on alcohol, drugs and prostitution in the dusty, coal mining towns like Lad Rymbai. Despite the ever present dangers and hardships, children, migrants and locals flock to the mines hoping to strike it rich in India's wild east. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) less 
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Getty Images | Photo By Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images
Sat, May 14, 2011 6:32 AM EDT