Engage Indian Navy, Army & Air Force To Rescue 15 Trapped Meghalaya Miners: Plea In SC

Engage Indian Navy, Army & Air Force To Rescue 15 Trapped Meghalaya Miners: Plea In SC

As operation to rescue 15 trapped miners continue at the 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Meghalaya, a petition has now been filed in the Supreme Court demanding engagement of expert/technical teams of the Indian Army, Navy and Airforce in the rescue operations

The miners have been trapped in the mine in the Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it.

The petition, now filed by Delhi based Advocate Aditya N. Prasad, lists as respondents the Central government through Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Defence, State government of Meghalaya, Coal India Ltd. and the Ministry of External Affairs.

It claims that the rescue operation has been suspended due to lack of equipment, especially high horse power water pumps to remove water from the mine shafts. Pointing out the need for such equipment, it submits,

"…no specialised equipment, rovers, camera etc. which are able to function in the situation at the site are available with the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force. It is also evident that the State Government has not sought the assistance of the Defence forces in the rescue operation and neither the Union Government has offered the same."

The petition goes on to allege that the Central government has failed to offer assistance to the miners, even though similar assistance had been offered to the government of Thailand when a few boys had been trapped in a cave in the country last year.

It contends, "…the Union Government had offered assistance to the Royal Thailand Government in the month of June/ July this year for helping in rescuing 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave inside a mountain in the country by offering technical assistance in the form of water pumps from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd. However, the same has not been done for the present and almost similar situation i.e. pumping out of water in large quantities…

"…In the present circumstances it is essential that all technical know-how on the subject be pooled in from the country without any delay. The fact that high capacity water pumps are available within the country and were offered to a foreign nation but are not being pressed into service for saving its own citizens reflects the inconsiderate apathy of the authorities."

Apart from engagement of the army, navy and air force, the petition then demands that high capacity self priming or any other pumps available in the country be airlifted to the rescue site. A direction has also been sought to Coal India to provide necessary technical know-how, equipment and guidance at the site.

It further demands a direction to the authorities to prepare a standard operating procedure for rescue in mines and other similar situations, submitting, "This also reflects that the States or the Union are not prepared to deal with eventualities arising out of mining being undertaken in various parts of the Country."