Almost two months after 15 poor labourers got trapped in a flooded illegal rat-hole mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia hills district, the Centre on Friday accepted the suggestion of airlifting 100 HP capacity pumps to the nearest point of the site and install them "at the earliest" with the help of the Army authorities, while the Supreme Court called for a list of all illegal mines in the area.
The suggestion was made in terms of the report of the National Institute of Hydrology and Geological Survey of India.
Senior advocate Anand Grover told a bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice A Abdul Nazeer that the problem of dewatering of the mine persists and Maharashtra-based company, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, was ready to supply sufficient number of 100 HP pumps, as prescribed in the report of the hydrologist. The report was submitted nearly two weeks ago by the National Institute of Hydrology.
It is to be noted here that the petitioner had been pressing for calling in the Army for logistical support from the start.
The suggestions were finally accepted by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta nearly two months after the tragedy and when the Navy's Remotely Operated Vehicle had recovered a body of one of the miners and discovered another.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has issued notice to the owner of the illegal mine in which the 15 men have been trapped. As per the status report of the Meghalaya government, he is already in custody. "The aforesaid mishappening has taken place because of illegal mining in the concerned mines for which, obviously, the mine owner is responsible. It is, therefore, directed that notice be issued to the mine owner also, namely, Jrin Chullet @ Krip Chullet, R/O Village Narwan, P.S. Saipung, Distt. H.Q. Khliehriat, East Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya-793200. Jrin Chullet @ Krip Chullet be impleaded as respondent No. 7," directed the bench.
It also directed that the counsel for the State of Meghalaya as well as the counsel for Coal India Ltd. "shall also give the particulars of other illegal mines operating in the area".
It is now to be seen as to how quickly the directions of the court are implemented and survivors found. The matter is now listed for February 22.