SHILLONG, Jan 3 - The Supreme Court today directed the Meghalaya Government to speed up the rescue efforts in the mine disaster. “We are not satisfied with the rescue operations. No matter whether they are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should be taken out. We pray to God they are alive,” the apex court reportedly said. The Court will seek answers from the State Government again tomorrow.
Meanwhile, hope, and not water, is receding from the coal pits in East Jaintia Hills despite the best efforts of the rescue team to pump out water continuously, but it is still not clear from which source river water is finding its way into the mineshafts.
Two pumps of the Odisha Fire Service today continued to pump out the water from two different shafts adjacent to the main shaft where the coal miners had entered the illegal rat-hole coal mine.
On Wednesday, 1.4 feet of water were pumped out and today it was found that the water level has reached the same level again, which suggests that water is finding its way into the shafts from a source which has not been identified yet.
According to officials, the survey conducted by the State Revenue Department a few days back has not been able to ascertain from where the water is getting into the mine. The report of the survey is with the Government and officials are tight-lipped about its findings.
“Definitely the survey report is helpful, but it is difficult to find the source from where the water is getting in or we will not be facing this situation. It is a long river (Letein), about 4-5 km long,” a senior official at the rescue site told The Assam Tribune over phone.
On the other hand, Coal India Limited’s submersible pump with 100 horsepower is still not operational and technicians have been struggling for the past two days to put it into service so that 500 gallons of water per minute can be pumped out.
Moreover, three high-capacity water pumps of Kirloskar Brothers are yet to be put into service. Some of these have reached the site. Two more of Coal India’s high-capacity pumps are likely to be put into use by tomorrow.
If everything works according to plan, there will be eight pumps available by tomorrow. But again, these efforts may not yield the desired results if water continues to gush into the mines.
In an ominous sign, authorities have alerted family members of the miners to collect the interim relief of Rs 1 lakh. Deputy Commissioners are trying to get in touch with the family members to hand over the interim relief, as directed by the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission. However, many of the family members are reluctant to come forward and take the aid as they are hopeful of some positive news.