New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear 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 illegal coal mine since 13 December.

The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who said that it would be taken up for hearing on Thursday.

The petition sought a direction to the Centre and other concerned 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 Ltd were not being utilized for the rescue operations. The Kirloskars had offered four pumps of 100 horsepower while the Tatas offered two.

It also sought intervention of the Army, apart from the Navy and the Air Force that are engaged in the rescue operations.

15 miners were trapped inside a 370-foot deep illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since 13 December after water from nearby Lytein river gushed in, puncturing the mine wall.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed a blanket ban on unscientific and unsafe mining of coal in Meghalaya since 2014.

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