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The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Meghalaya government why 15 miners who are trapped in rat holes mines in the East Jaintia hills district have not been rescued even after 20 days.

The plea by Advocate Aditya N Prasad said the machinery to sponge down the water being offered should be instantaneously airlifted to the site instead of delivering it by road.

It is to be known that for over 20 days, 15 miners are trapped inside a flooded coalmine in East Jaintia Hills district. The rescue work is being done by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Navy, Odisha firefighters and Coal India Ltd.

The NGT had earlier ordered a temporary ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya effective April 17, 2014.

BACKGROUNDER

  • On Dec 13, 2018 20 workers went down into the mine. These mines are illegal rat holes mines in the East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya. The total length of mine is around 320 feet deep. Five workers have saved themselves but 15 others are trapped into the mine.
  • The mine in is flooded by water in all likelihood, due to a breach of a wall which separated a rivulet of Lytein river flowing 800 feet from the mine, which caused water to gush into the mine and fill it to the brim.
  • Rat hole mining is case where the small tunnels are dig which are small enough that only one workman can go in and extract coal. NGT has banned rat hole mining in 2014, in petition filed by All Dimasa Student’s Union and Dima Hasao district committee.
  • Initially the 70 personnel team of NDRF lead by Mr. S.K Shastri is looking after the rescue work; they were using two pumps of 25 horse power to pump out water from mine. NDRF team was not able to provide the rescue, as water level was still not going down, as they were in need of the 10 pumps of 100 horsepower.
  • Kirloskar Brothers, India’s leading pump manufacturing company has sent Ten high capacity pumps, Also Coal India is sending eight high-capacity pumps from its mines across the country.
  • Also, navy and air force is called to help in rescuing work, at present More than 200 rescuers, including 14 members of the Indian Navy, 72 members of the NDRF, 21 Odisha fire fighters, and 35 Coal India Limited officials along with state disaster response teams have been deployed to carry out the rescue operations.
  • Navy divers entered the flooded 370-foot rat-hole mine again on Monday and stayed inside the shaft for three hours with a hi-tech gadget, under water remotely operated vehicle, but found the visibility to be very poor.
  • Still no workman can be rescued only 3 helmets have been found by teams and it is also reported that foul smell has been started coming from the mine.

 

—India Legal Bureau

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