Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the 15 miners who are still trapped in the flooded rat-hole mine in Meghalaya.
Gandhi took a dig at PM Modi for not offering the necessary help to rescue the miners trapped in a 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Ksan area of Lumthari village for the past two weeks.
“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,” Gandhi tweeted referring to PM Modi launching India’s longest railroad bridge in neighbouring Assam on Tuesday.
“His government refuses to organise high-pressure pumps for the rescue. PM please save the miners,” Gandhi further tweeted.
Attempts to rescue the miners have been suspended for the meantime because of the lack of equipment, mainly pumps to drain out the water. The exercise will resume once more powerful pumps are made available to district authorities.
About 20 miners on December 13 entered the quarry owned by Krip Chullet. After reaching the bottom of the pit, they entered horizontal manholes, often termed as ‘rat-holes’, as each just about fits one person. Five persons were able to climb out of the flooded mine, leaving the others behind.
The NDRF has used a sonar system and an underwater camera to detect the trapped miners. However, the system failed to locate any of those trapped in the main well due to poor visibility.
About 100 personnel of the national and state disaster response forces, along with the police, are waiting for the water to recede about 30 feet as divers can do their job once the water level subsides up to that level.
According to locals, one of the diggers could have accidentally punctured the walls of the cave following which the river water gushed into it on December 13.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had written to Coal India seeking transportation of their high powered pumps to the mine to help drain the water out.
The state government had on December 22 announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief to the family members of each of the 15 miners.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has criticised the state government for its “failure” to rescue the trapped miners.
“If the government of Thailand can launch an operation involving international search and rescue teams (to rescue the 13 trapped footballers), this government is not serious at all in rescuing trapped miners,” Congress spokesperson HM Shangpliang said.
The incident gains significance, especially after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in the state from April 17, 2014. Transportation of already extracted coal is intermittently allowed for exporting the mineral to Assam and Bangladesh.
(With agency inputs)