Accidents & Disasters

Meghalaya Flooded 'rat-hole' Mine Rescue: Congress Calls For Operation To Save 15 Trapped Miners To Be Expedited

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:

Congress media in-charge Randeep Surjewala has called for the operation to rescue 15 miners who are trapped in a flooded 'rat-hole' mine in Meghalaya to be expedited, accusing the Modi government of having a belated response.

Taking to Twitter, Surjewala has highlighted how the miners have been trapped in the illegal and remote mine at the Jaintia Hills area in Meghalaya for 13 days.

The rescue operations, for which the SDRF and NDRF have been called in, have been stalled over the last few days on account of the water pumps on hand not being powerful enough to drain the flooded mine. Water from a nearby river is said to be seeping into the mine at a rate that renders draining efforts with the pumps on hand ineffective. More powerful pumps are being brought in.

The miners have been trapped since the mine was flooded on December 13. Some miners who were able to escape on that day gave an account of how water came to inundate the illegal setup. It started with the walls of the mine being moist and culminated in what sounds like torrents of water entering through a hole.

Families of the miners as well as their well-wishers have pinned their hopes on those trapped inside finding their way to an air pocket within the mine network, as was the case earlier this year when the Thai football team was trapped in an under-sea cave system.

Coal mining had been banned in the mineral-rich state of Meghalaya four years ago by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), with fears over the safety of miners being one of the reasons. However, despite the ban, this kind of informal and illegal 'rat-hole' mining remains rampant and lucrative for the local population. 'Rat-hole' mining refers to horizontal tunnels that are dug into hills allowing for miners to reach coal columns. The tunnels are generally only wide enough for one person to fit through at a time. 

Update: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also tweeted: