Updated: December 26, 2018 2:01:21 pm
Congress president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ignored the plight of miners trapped in a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya. The Congress chief said that the BJP government in the state failed to organise high-pressure pumps for the rescue operation. “15 miners have been struggling for air in a flooded coal mine for two weeks. Meanwhile, PM struts about on Bogibeel Bridge posing for cameras. His government refuses to organise high-pressure pumps for the rescue. PM please save the miners,” Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
Rescue operations at the collapsed coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district were temporarily halted due to the lack of proper equipment. The mine is located at Ksan in Saipung area of the district and stands next to Lytein river, whose water is said to have gushed into the mine on December 13, trapping the workers.
The mine is illegal because the technique used here is ‘rat-hole technique’, which was banned by the NGT in 2014. Nothing but three helmets of workers have been recovered in over 10 days of search operations by the NDRF and SRDF.
Assistant Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Santosh Singh, temporarily posted in Saipung to lead the rescue operations, told The Indian Express over phone that there was no fresh pumping out of the water in the collapsed mine because the two 25 Horse Power pumps available with them were not proving effective. “Unless we get around ten 100 Horse Power pumps, there is no use pumping out the water. The water continues to seep in and the level remains the same,” Singh said.
The relatives of the minners have accepted that the men would not return. In West Garo Hills district’s Magurmari village, from where five of the 15 men hail, Aziar Rahman, a relative of trapped Omar Ali and Shirapat Ali, said, “Leave alone rescuing anyone or finding dead bodies, the authorities have been unsuccessful in even reducing the water level. It shows that the government is not interested in this rescue operation. We are slowly coming to terms with the fact that our men will not return home alive.”
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