Dead or alive, they should be taken out says SC on Meghalaya’s missing miners
New Delhi, Jan 3: The Supreme Court has sought to know what action the Meghalaya government had taken on the trapped miners.
The court asked," what action have you taken. The miners have been missing for so many days. The court also said that it was not satisfied with the rescue operations. No matter whether they are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should be taken out. We pray to God that they are alive, the court said while summoning the Central Government counsel.
The court also told Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, ' you wanted to send pumps to Thailand. That is not happening here. Why not,' the court also asked.
Further it said that it is the Centre which has to do something. The Army had volunteered to help, but government did not want it. Why? Mehta said that instead of the Army, the NDRF is there. The court said that there are 72 NDRF men there, but there has been no result. Mehta then said that instead of the Army, they had sent the Navy.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea seeking urgent steps to rescue 15 miners trapped inside an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13.
The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul.
The PIL filed by Aditya N Prasad also sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities concerned to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for rescue operations in mining.
The rat-hole mine, located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees in East Jaintia Hills district, had got flooded when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it, trapping the miners.
Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually three-four feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal. The horizontal tunnels are often termed "rat holes" as each just about fits one person.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had contradicted media reports which quoted it as saying the trapped minors were suspected to be dead on the basis of a foul odour that the force's divers had encountered when they went inside the mine.
It had said the foul smell could be due to the stagnant water in the mine as pumping had been halted for more than 48 hours.
A survivor of the accident said Saturday there was no way the trapped miners would come out alive.
Family members of at least seven trapped miners had already given up hope to rescue them alive and requested the government to retrieve the bodies for last rites.