Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government, on Monday, clarified before the bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer that the government has not “abandoned” the operations to rescue Meghalaya trapped miners in a flooded rat-hole mine even as the State government has informed that the “bodies of the remaining miners are behind the body detected on January 16”.
The Centre elucidated that it would stick to its commitment and continue to search for the 15 miners, trapped for over a month in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya.
Avijit Mani Tripathi, counsel for Meghalaya told the Bench that the unidentified bodies are in a decayed state and it is for all intents and purposes inconceivable to recover it. He added that space is too restricted to even think about bringing the body out and chances of complete disintegration of the body are much higher. The State further said that it is in consultation with the kin of the missing miners about future activity. He said, “In the process of pulling out the body, the skull, the left wrist, and the leg from the knee-level got disengaged.......It is the considered opinion of the naval team that if the body is pulled further, there will be a total disintegration of different parts, rendering the same virtually impossible to retrieve.”
The Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Aditya N. Prasad, seeking urgent action by the administration. Senior advocate Anand Grover, representing petitioner alleged that the authorities are “trying to abandon the operation”.
On Monday, the Meghalaya government had submitted a status report before the Court listing the steps taken amid January 7 to January 17 in order to rescue the miners.
On January 17, a body was spotted around 210 feet from the surface and the Navy personnel's effort to retrieve the body were abandoned citing the fact that the body was much decayed and was disintegrating during the process.
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court asked the Centre as well as the state to consider the petitioner’s suggestions and posted the matter next week for a further hearing.