Even after 13 days of incessant search, the 13 miners who were reported trapped in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya, remain untraced. Situated in Ksan village in East Jaintia hills, the coal mine forms a part of the illegal coal mafia that is being operated in Meghalaya defying the NGT ban. According to some reports, the miners are long feared dead.
The Police Superintendent claims that they have asked the government to provide the necessary equipment to carry forward the search operations. Speaking to the ANI, District Collector FM Dopth said, “We are here for the rescue operation with the NDRF, the police, the district administration and the SDRF. Our efforts are mainly to pump out the water from the shaft which is about 70- 80 feet deep. Without pumping the water, it is difficult to retrieve the miners.” He then corrected himself quickly to say that he meant “rescue” and not “retrieve”.
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A mine expert from Guwahati has been flown in to seek expertise from. Further actions will be taken accordingly.
The unfortunate incident comes after a long ensuing battle between the NGT and the Meghalaya state. The NGT had banned mining in Meghalaya in 2014 after the tribunal received an application filed by the Assam-based All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee on April 2, 2014.
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The application was filed in the wake of the rising pollution in the Kopili river. The state, however, terms the ban “illegal”. There are at least five petitions before a bench of the apex court on the coal-mining issue, The Telegraph reported.
The ‘rat-hole’ coal mining which is prevalent in Meghalaya state is not just inhuman but also harms the environment. When asked about the government’s measures to check illegal mines, Meghalaya CM said that all efforts were being made to curb illegal mining but the sheer size of the state and the secluded locations of the mines resulted in evasion by the defaulters.