New Delhi: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court on Monday that rescue operations for trapped miners in Meghalaya had not been abandoned.

This came in response to the petitioner’s lawyer Anand Grover alleging that the operation to find the trapped miners had been abandoned and that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was waiting for a final word from the top court to call off rescue operations.

The counsel for the Meghalaya government also told the court it had filed a status report and that the state govt was not abandoning rescue operations. He added that the body of one of the trapped miners found on 17 January was in danger of disintegration and that there was a strong possibility of other bodies in the vicinity.

The court was hearing 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 for mining rescue operations. It also questioned why heavy duty pumps made by by private companies such as Kirloskar Brothers were not being utilized for the rescue operations. The Kirloskars had offered four pumps of 100 hp while the Tatas had 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 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.

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