The Supreme Court has alleged that it is not satisfied with the efforts to rescue 15 men trapped in a coal mine in Meghalaya for over three weeks and asked the state government why it was not successful in rescuing the miners who have been trapped inside the mine since December 13. The top court was hearing a petition pleasing for urgent steps as part of rescue efforts.
“We’re not satisfied with rescue operations. No matter whether they are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should be taken out. We pray to God they are alive,” the Supreme Court stated.
The operation to save 15 people, trapped in a 320-foot-deep illegal “rat-hole” mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, has made little progress since it began. Multiple teams, from the NDRF, Navy, and firefighters, are on the ground, trying to make reach the miners.
The Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) divers could not go down the 370 foot-deep mine, even as draining out of a nearby abandoned mine they believe may be connected to it continued, officials confirmed.
The NDRF had contradicted reports which quoted it as saying that the trapped workers were suspected to be dead on the basis of a foul odor that its divers had encountered when they went inside the mine. It had said the foul smell could be due to the stagnant water in the mine as pumping had been stopped for more than 48 hours.
A high-powered submersible pump from Coal India Ltd will be put into operation today in the abandoned mine, while more pumps from Odisha Fire and Disaster service are to be pressed into action in more abandoned mines, they said. Leading pump manufacturer, Kirloskar Brothers, has also joined in with four specialized high-capacity pumps to take away the water.
The petition, filed with an advocate, sought directions to the center and the state to utilize the services of the technical wing of the armed forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – in the operation to rescue the 15 miners.
The petition also sought a direction to the center and other authorities to make a standard operating procedure (SOP) for rescue operations in “mines and other similar conditions”.
The Meghalaya government’s lawyer told the Supreme Court that they have taken proper steps in the rescue operation and that the center was also supporting them.
The “rat-hole” mine, atop a hillock fully covered with trees in a remote part of East Jaintia Hills district, was flooded when water from a nearby river and an abandoned mine gushed into it, trapping the miners.