End or continue? Meghalaya govt mulls decision on rescue op for trapped miners

Updated on Jan 12, 2019 07:53 AM IST
A month after 15 coal miners were trapped by sudden flooding in an illegal rathole mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, the state government is now considering ceasing the rescue operation.
Rescue personnel conduct rescue task at the site of the coal mine collapse at Ksan, in Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.(PTI)
Rescue personnel conduct rescue task at the site of the coal mine collapse at Ksan, in Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Shillong | ByDavid Laitphlang

A month after 15 coal miners were trapped by sudden flooding in an illegal rathole mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, the state government is now considering ceasing the rescue operation.

On Friday, chief minister Conrad Sangma said: “It is becoming a gargantuan task. Every day, we pump out litres and litres of water, but the very next day, a recharge (of water in the mine) takes place. I have asked Coal India and Kirloskar Brothers to continue operations for at least 15 hours today and, subject to a report, we will take a call.” He admitted chances of the trapped miners being still alive are slim.

The CM’s comments came on Friday, the 29th day since the mining disaster. On the same day, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to take the help of experts and continue operations.

The judges also asked what the government was doing about persons operating illegal mines and the officials who allowed the subversive activity to go on.

The Centre responded by saying that help from National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee and some other private research institutes including Planys Technology was being taken for the rescue effort.

“We have decided to bring in smaller, remotely operated vehicles to get into the rat hole mine but the situation is very difficult,” said Sangma.

Given the cost burden in meeting expenses for the rescue operations, the East Jaintia Hills administration has sought an advance of 50 lakh from the state government.

“Expenses are very high. Managing so many operational logistics including construction, food, fuel and other logistics required for installing high-powered pumps.... we can’t really say how much, but the figures are substantial,” Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth said over the phone.

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