As the New Year begins one cannot help but remember that our fellow Indians lie trapped in a coal mine 370 feet underground in a mine in the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya. It has been 20 days since these ill fated miners numbering 15 have been inside the mine. All attempts to rescue them have proved futile so far. What has made rescue operations difficult is the water at the bottom of the cave. Authorities have drawn all the help they can and the Indian Navy rescuers have been able to go to a depth of 90 feet only so far. They are optimistic about the task before them and hope that the miners would have found an air pocket and are still alive.
The nation watches with horror at this incident of illegal mining which has trapped so many human lives.
The miners had begun work on December 11 when two days later water from the Lytein river and another abandoned mine gushed in up to 70 feet thus trapping the miners.
Fire fighting personnel arrived and attempted rescue operations but proved unsuccessful. Navy divers were called in and they were of the opinion that rescue operations could be conducted safely only after the water level inside was reduced to 30 metre level. The 11 Navy deep divers are at hand while pumping operations are underway to reduce the water level in the shaft of the mine.
The physical and mental condition of these miners is a great cause for worry and urgency to expedite rescue work is being looked into.
Illegal mining has been rampant in the Meghalaya Hills and exposes the nexus between the authorities and the mine owners who make money at the cost of the poor miner. Safety norms are flouted without compunction and the workers’ lives are put at stake. In this case, the owner of the coal mine has been on the run ever since tragedy struck.