Shillong: Rescue operations in Meghalaya to locate the 14 trapped miners has been suspended for the second day in a row. Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission has initiated a Suo Motu action against the state government and issued a notice for an inquiry into the disaster.
The 14 miners have been trapped in the rat-hole like coal-mine for the past 13 days in Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya. Rescue efforts so far have failed to release any of the miners, who’ve been trapped for more than 13 days in the 370-feet deep illegal coal mine. Meanwhile, the water level in the flooded mine in East Jaintia Hills district has not receded, a senior official said.
On December 13, nearly 20 miners entered the quarry owned by Krip Chullet. After reaching the bottom of the pit, they entered horizontal manholes, often termed as ‘rat-holes’, as each just about fits one person. The miners have trapped in the illegal pit after water from nearby Lytein River gushed into the mine.
Search operations were hit after the Meghalaya government suspended operations for want of high-powered pumps to flush out water from the illegal pit on December 25.
“It took the police hours to locate the mine as the villagers feigned ignorance about the accident. They are afraid that mine owners might cause them harm. Some who consider mining to be their only means of livelihood fear police action may add to their woes,” said Sylvester Nongtynger, the East Jaintia Hills superintendent of police, adding that he came to know about the accident from Rajabala MLA Azad Aman.
Four years after the National Green Tribunal ordered a ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, illegal practices continue unabated in the state, putting lives at risk every day.
On Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi made a fervent appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save 14 people trapped in the flooded coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13, alleging the government was not organising high-pressure pumps for the rescue operation.