Shillong: After the local rescue operation not being able to make any headway, the Meghalaya government has sought help from the Indian Navy to rescue the five miners who have been trapped inside a coal mine in the East Jaintia Hills District due to a dynamite explosion.
On the night of May 30, a dynamite explosion in Sutnga Elaka in the East Jaintia Hills District led to at least five miners being trapped inside an illegal rat-hole mine since then. If alive, they will have been trapped in the mine for 12 days.
A team of over 100 rescuers from the NDRF, SDRF and the Fire Service have been waiting for the water level to deescalate to 10 metres which is the maximum level for operation.
"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 said that the rescue operation has been very difficult, but also added that the Meghalaya government is exploring all rescue options to help the trapped miners.
On June 10, a Navy official reported that the dewatering process has begun and that the water level inside the coal pit’s vertical shift has decreased to 36 metres from 46 metres.
Meghalaya has around 560 million tonnes of coal deposits, and the state provides employment to hundreds of illegal migrant workers from Assam and Tripura who are engaged in illegal coal mining.
Hazardous rat-hole mining has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Meghalaya since 2014. According to the NGT, unscientific and unsafe coal mining is making the ecosystems more vulnerable to environmental degradation.
The police have arrested the owner of the mine, Shining Langstang. He has been charged with the violation of the NGT order banning unscientific mining and transportation of coal. However, the mine manager, who brought the illegal migrant workers from Assam and Tripura to work at the mine, is still on the run and a lookout notice has been issued for him.
State’s police records show that there have been at least 477 violations of the NGT order from April 2014 to November 2018. This is the second reported coal-mine incident in the East Jaintia Hills District this year. In January 2021, six miners died while working in the mines in the district....