New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Thursday, while expressing concern for miners trapped in an illegal coal mine since December 13, has asked Meghalaya government as why it has not succeeded in rescuing miners until now.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer said: “We are not satisfied (with steps taken for rescue). It is a question of life and death. What has happened in the last so many days we do not know. No matter whether they (the trapped miners) are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should have been taken out by now. We pray to God that they all are alive.”
“It is a question of life and death for the trapped miners. For people trapped in mine in Meghalaya every minute counts,” the bench added.
The court was hearing the issue after Aditya N Prasad, an advocate, filed a PIL (public interest litigation) on this.
The state government has informed to the court that 72 NDRF personnel, 14 Navy personnel and Coal India personnel are working to rescue the trapped miners. The Meghalaya counsel has assured the court that all the required measures have been taken by the state government for rescue operation with the support of the Centre.
The bench also ordered the solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, to file a response on Friday on the steps the state is planning to take to rescue the miners.
The apex court has also asked the government that why it had not sought help of the Army for rescue operation where the miners are trapped in a “rat hole”.
On December 13, 15 miners were trapped in the Ksan coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district when water of nearby the Lytein river gushed into the mine flooding it. The mine is one of the many illegal coal mines in the area, which are also called “rat holes” because of their narrow and deep pits.
The Indian Air Force and Indian Navy teams have also joined the NDRF and others in the rescue efforts in the mine.