It has been three weeks and there are no successful results in finding the 15 miners who had been trapped in a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya. Now several departments, organisations, agencies are coming forward in aid of the trapped miners.
Air Force has sent high-power pumps from Odisha to Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills after low-capacity pumps used by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were ineffective. NDRF senior officials said water from an adjacent abandoned mine and a nearby river kept flooding the rat-hole mine, making it unsafe for their divers to operate.
At the same time, Coal India is sending high-capacity pumps from its mines in Asansol in West Bengal and Dhanbad in Jharkhand. According to sources, they are being transported by road as these special pumps are not available in Coal India’s Upper Assam mines, which would have otherwise been nearer to Meghalaya.
On the other hand, a team of heavy pump-maker Kirloskar Brothers Ltd is at the incident site on a survey mission to work out how it can help, sources said. Powerful pumps manufactured by the Indian company were used to save 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave in July. “…We hope all miners are rescued safely,” Kirloskar Brothers said in a statement.
It may be noted that NDRF divers who went down to the flooded mine reported foul smell on Thursday, raising concerns it could be from the decomposed bodies of the miners. NDRF officials at the site, however, said they are not certain whether the foul smell is of decomposed bodies as it could be from stagnant water, which has not been pumped out for days.
Mining was banned in mineral-rich Meghalaya in 2014 after people said it was polluting water bodies. But the practice continues with locals illegally extracting coal using dangerous “rat-hole” mines, which means digging into the side of hills and then burrowing horizontal tunnels to reach a coal seam.