January 28: In the hope to save trapped miners yet after more than a month, the Supreme Court today urged the Centre and the government to continue with the rescue operation of trapped miners in the 370-foot-deep flooded coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13 last year.
Earlier, Navy spotted two dead bodies during the rescue operation.
The counsel for the petitioner, senior advocate Anand Grover submitted that in order to recover the bodies, it was necessary that the illegal mine be first de-watered and also suggested that for this process the services of the Indian Army should be acquired.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing Centre assured the bench headed by Justice A. K. Sikri that, in the hope of a miraculous survival, the rescue efforts have not been abandoned. He also asserted that the officials of the Army and of the National Disaster Response Force are already participating in the endeavor.
The apex court put up the next date of hearing for February 4.
Brief background of the matter, the apex court is hearing a PIL filed by Aditya N. Prasad who has sought urgent steps to rescue 15 miners trapped in the illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district.
Last week, the state government had told the top court that on January 16, the ROV of Indian Navy had detected a body at a depth of 210 feet in the flooded mine and efforts were being made to retrieve it but could not be completed as the body parts started disintegrating. On January 11, the Centre had told the court that it has to "believe in miracles" for the 15 miners to come out alive.
Earlier this month, in Course of delay in the rescue work, the top court had pointed out the Centre and had sought a detailed report from it.
The Centre in its response filed its status report and said that crores of litres of water has been pumped out from the mine and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) of the Indian Navy were already working in the rescue operation.
"Underground ROVs being operated in adjacent mines, systematically searching and sanitising them one by one. So far, two adjacent mines have been searched and declared clear," the report said.
It said Indian Air Force aircraft were also deployed for rescue operation.
The status report said that Meghalaya government is undertaking search and rescue operations and the Centre is supplementing the efforts by providing all necessary logistic support.
The court had also expressed dissatisfaction over the progress in the rescue operation, and asked the centre to look into it considering its “urgency” and said it was “a question of life and death” for those trapped.