The Supreme Court on Friday once again reprimanded the Meghalaya government over its shoddy efforts to rescue the 15 labourers who remain trapped in an illegal mine in East Jaintia Hills since December 15. The bodies of two men, who are presumed to have been killed when hit by boulders while extracting coal, have been recovered till now.
“We do not know if they are dead or alive. But miracles can happen. So we have to keep trying until we have some result,” the bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer told the government.
Pulling up the government over the steps taken to crack down on those involved in illegal mining, the bench asked, “What are you doing against people involved in illegal mining there?”
The government, in its response, said one person has been arrested in connection with the case.
The government had earlier informed the court that the mine was illegal due to which no blueprint of the 355-feet well was available to facilitate operations.
Providing the status of the rescue work, the government said that five remotely operated vehicles have been deployed by the Indian Navy for rescue operations. It added that while one crore litres of water has been pumped out from the mine, seepage from the nearby river continued to hinder operations.
Earlier this month, the top court had also lashed out at the Centre over the delay in rescue work and had sought a detailed report from it.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress in operations, the court had asked the Centre to look into it considering its “urgency” and said it was “a question of life and death” for those trapped.