January 2: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, decided to hear the plea on Thursday in response to a PIL filed by a lawyer Aditya N Prasad seeking directions to the centre and state government to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and to provide with the adequate manpower and equipment to rescue 15 miners trapped inside a flooded illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills since December 13.
The matter was listed for urgent hearing before the two-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul.
In the petition, Aditya N Prasad said that it must be asked to the centre and the state government to take help and guidance of the expertise of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force in the rescue operation.
Aditya N Prasad in his petition further stated that directions should also be issued to Coal India to provide “necessary technical know-how, equipment and guidance immediately at the rescue site”.
Prasad has also sought directions of the court to ask the government to make available, high-capacity pumps, in the country, including that of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and airlift them to the remote site in Ksan village.
The coal miners are trapped from past 20 days inside a flooded coal mine in Ksan village, about 130 km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.
As per the sources, the team was not able to reach the ground level even after diving till around 70 feet. It implies the need of high-capacity pumps to be necessary to carry out rescuing operation.
Presently, Indian Navy team and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel are engaged in the rescue operation of the coal miners. NDRF rescuers and Odisha firefighters, on Tuesday, began dewatering the coal mine in their bid.
The NDRF also reported a “foul odour” near the mine, indicating that the miners are dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose.
However, on Saturday, a survivor of the accident said, “there was no way the trapped miners would come out alive”. Family members of at least seven trapped miners had already given up hope to rescue them alive and requested the government to retrieve the bodies for last rites.
The matter will be heard tomorrow.