5 Feared Trapped In Meghalaya Mine For 12 Days, Navy Called For Help


A total of 100 rescuers from the NDRF, SDRF and the Fire Service are engaged in the rescue op. (File)

Shillong:

The Meghalaya government has sought help from the Indian Navy as the rescue operation for trapped miners inside an illegal coal mine hasn’t made any headway so far. Five labourers have been trapped for the last 12 days inside the illegal coal mine that was flooded after a dynamite explosion in East Jaintia Hills district.

“We have written to the Ministry of Defence to provide us Navy divers for assisting in the rescue operation,” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said.

He added that the state government is exploring all options to rescue the trapped miners.

Mr Sangma had earlier termed the rescue operation to be very difficult and said that despite efforts by the district administration as well as other agencies, including NDRF, there are no positive results yet.

A total of 100 rescuers from the NDRF, SDRF and the Fire Service are waiting for the water level to come down to about 10 meters in depth because they could not operate in such water level.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in 2014 imposed a blanket ban on rat-hole coal mining across the state. But still illegal mining is taking place in the state in violation of the order, officials said.

Police have arrested the owner of the coal mine and charged him for violation of the NGT order banning unscientific mining and transportation of coal.

Meghalaya is estimated to have coal deposits of about 560 million tonnes

Mostly, illegal migrant workers from Assam and Tripura are engaged in mining activities.

The indiscriminate and unscientific mining, absence of post-mining treatment and management of the mined areas are making the fragile ecosystems more vulnerable to environmental degradation, according to the NGT.

This is the second mining incident taking place in East Jaintia Hills district, infamous for its illegal ‘rat hole’ coal mines, this year.

Six people had been killed while working inside a coal mine in the district in January this year.

In 2018, East Jaintia Hills made headlines when 15 migrant miners from Assam had died inside in an abandoned coal mine.

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