New Delhi: Expressing concern over the progress of rescue operations for trapped miners in Meghalaya, the Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to apprise it of steps being taken by the central government by Friday.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi termed it a “very serious" issue and observed that it was a question of “life and death". The court also asked the Centre why the army was not being involved in rescue operations.
The court was responding to a plea seeking immediate steps by the Centre and state government to rescue miners trapped inside an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills. Fifteen miners have been trapped in the coal mine since 13 December.
The petition sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) for rescue operations in mining. It also questioned why heavy duty pumps by private companies such as Kirloskar Brothers were not being utilized for the rescue operations. The Kirloskars had offered four pumps of 100 horsepower while the Tatas have offered two.
It also sought intervention of the Army, apart from the Navy and the Air Force, in the rescue operations.
Fifteen miners are trapped inside a 370-foot deep coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since 13 December after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed in, puncturing the mine wall.