Rescue operations for trapped Meghalaya miners suspended till water level recedes: Officials
About 20 miners on December 13 had entered the quarry owned by Krip Chullet, who has been arrested. After reaching the bottom of the pit,they entered horizontal manholes. Five persons were able to climb out of the flooded mine, leaving the others behind.Updated: Dec 24, 2018 18:46 IST
Authorities in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district on Monday temporarily suspended operations to rescue 15 miners trapped in a 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Ksan area of Lumthari village since December 13 as the water level has not receded despite 20 lakh litres being pumped out.
About 20 miners on December 13 had entered the quarry owned by Krip Chullet, who has been arrested. After reaching the bottom of the pit,they entered horizontal manholes, often termed as ‘rat-holes’, as each just about fits one person.Five persons were able to climb out of the flooded mine, leaving the others behind.
The incident had brought the illegal coal mining in the northeastern state into the national limelight. The illegal mining had started following a Supreme Court order on December 5 allowing transport of about 1.76 lakh tonnes of extracted coal till January 31, 2019.
Santosh Kumar Singh, assistant commandant of the National Disaster Response Force’s 1st Battalion, which has been on the spot since December 13, the day of the accident , said: “There are no miners in the main shaft. All of them are possibly trapped in the lateral tunnels and we can only get there if the water levels recede.”
Singh said that the NDRF team in the meanwhile will look from where the water was seeping in to the coal mine. So far, the NDRF has pumped out 20 lakh litres of water from the mine but the water level has not receded because of high water level in river Lytein.
Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth said if the water level drops, then other rescue measures can be deployed but that is not happening since the difference between the discharge and recharge is vast and added that the cost of running the fuel pumps was about Rs 30,000 per day.
“Then, there are other logistics required such as food and potable water for the rescue teams, hiring of 4-wheel vehicles to ferry supplies and people since the area is very remote, repairing of the pumps since they cannot run for long periods and often break down and other overheads as well…. We have not calculated but it is turning out to be highly cumbersome exercise with no positive results,” he said.
The district administration has sought higher capacity water pumps from Coal India as suggested by mining engineer from Punjab Jaswant Singh Gill. “I have written to the government requesting help in procuring the pumps from Coal India and let’s hope that the response from Coal India is positive,” he said.
Dopth also said the family of the identified miners will get interim relief of Rs 1 lakh each.
On Monday, the East Jaintia Hills district administration distributed Rs 1 lakh compensation to the families of three trapped miners. “The families of the remaining 12 trapped miners have been informed by the local police and will be given compensation from December 26 onwards,” he said.
Even as the administration stopped pumping since the two 25 HP pumps were proving inadequate, Dopth said he has sent a proposal to the state government to procure 10 pumps of 100 HP each from Coal India. “The proposal is under consideration,” he said.
First Published: Dec 24, 2018 18:46 IST