Meghalaya Mine Tragedy : SC Asks Centre To File Status Report On Rescue Operation
The Solicitor General submitted that all efforts were being taken to rescue the trapped workers.
The Supreme Court (SC) Bench led by Justice A K Sikri directed the Centre and Meghalaya Government to file by Monday the status/ progress report on the rescue operation of 15 miners who were trapped since December 13 in an illegal coal mine.
The bench passed the order after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Bench that all possibly steps have been taken and the rescue operation is on. He submitted that the members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are making all efforts at the site, however, then mine is illegal and there no blueprint available as result, the workers are facing the difficulty.
"It is a rat hole mine; no one know which tunnel goes where. It has a total area of five square kilo meters", said the Solicitor General.
Seepage of nearby river water is one of the hurdles, the rescue workers are facing. The mine is around 25 story deep and 10 feet lower than the nearby Lytein river, with a maze of rat-hole mines. There are no air pockets and water is muddy, unlike Thailand cave, the SG informed the bench.
He submitted it becomes easier to locate the miners, if the blueprint of the mine is available.
Generally, for legal mines, there is a process to follow and it becomes easier due to the blueprint, the law officer submitted.
The bench said, " we were informed yesterday by the petitioner that the coal Mine is an illegal one but we will not go into that issue now. Why should these poor workers suffer?"
"Specialised 12 divers of the Indian Navy were into action but the difficulty is there is river nearby. We have been pumping out water but since there is seepage from the river the rescue workers haven't been able to get the water out.High powered Kirloskar pumps have been airlifted to the mines", SG said.
Justice Sikri told petitioner's counsel Senior Advocate Anand Grover that "it seems they are making efforts. Although the authorities failed to make serious efforts in the beginning when the miners were trapped in Meghalaya on December
However, Grover referred to a news item reported by a journalist at the spot and alleged that the instruments like pumps and generators are not working and the authorities are trying to purchase it from the local markets and the suppliers are asking for advance money. As a result the operation is getting delayed.
He suggested authorities should take the help of ISRO, which has necessary technology that may help to rescue the workers.
The bench will hear the matter further on Monday.
The unfortunate incident happened on December 13, when 15 miners got trapped in a 370 foot deep illegal mine. The tunnel the miners were in flooded with water after they cut into an adjacent mine which was full of water from the nearby Lytein river.
The petition in SC is filed by Delhi based Advocate Aditya N. Prasad, demanding engagement of expert/technical teams of the Indian Army, Navy and Airforce in the rescue operations