Trapped miners untraced, Navy locates wooden structure, coal rat-hole in coal pit

Trapped miners untraced, Navy locates wooden structure, coal rat-hole in coal pit

Agency News

Ksan (Meghalaya), Dec 31: Divers of the Indian Navy on Monday found a wooden structure and a rat-hole with a coal its mouth inside the flooded coal mine sans trapped miners in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, an official said.

At least 15 miners are believed to be trapped inside the rat-hole coal mine, which are on the lateral side of main shaft since December 13. The mine was being operated illegally after the National Green Tribunal banned mining of coal from April 2014.

“The Indian Navy divers which came out after three hours from the shaft found some wooden structure inside, coal lying beneath and one rat hole with coal at its mouth with the help of underwater remotely operated vehicle,” R Susgni, the spokesperson of the rescue operations, said.

He said, the visibility is very poor and around one feet at the bottom mud also was found.

“At present, the site is cleared for Odisha firefighters to start the pumping of water from the main shaft decease the water level. Other abandoned mines nearby are being prepared to pump out the water,” Susngi said.

Moreover, he said the Navy has requested the district administration to assist in dewatering so that it comes down to 30 meters or within safe diving limit so that they will again commence diving.

“The Navy have said, if the level can be further decreased the search and rescue of the trapped miners will be more feasible for the divers,” Susngi said.

He said, the safety measures are being undertaken to rule out decompression sickness.

Susgni said that the NDRF is providing all logistics and human resource support and assistance to other agencies including Indian Navy in the rescue operations.

More than 200 rescuers including from the Indian Navy, National Disaster Response Force, Odisha Fire Services, State Disaster Response Force, Coal India Limited are deployed in the search and rescue operations.

The district administration had temporarily suspended pumping out of water from the 370-feet coal pit since December 24 after the two 25 horsepower pumps became ineffective due to continuous operations.

Meghalaya police have launched a man-hunt to nab the manager of the illegal mine, who went underground following tragic accident on December 13.

The accident at the coal pit has exposed the illegal mining of coal in East Jaintia Hills district thus violating the National Green Tribunal (NGT) interim ban on the extraction and transportation of the coal in the state.

The NGT had imposed an interim ban on the extraction and transportation of the coal since 2014 after the All Dimsasa Student’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before it, alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to unscientific coal mining in Jaintia Hills.

On November 8, a frontline women’s right activist Agnes n November 8, Kharshiing along with her aide Amita Sangma were brutally assaulted by a group of people after the activist lodged a complaint on the illegal mining and transportation of coal in East Jaintia Hills district.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had said that appropriate action will be taken at appropriate time against the people who are involved in the illegal mining. (UNI)