The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue operations to rescue miners trapped in an illegal coal mine in the state’s East Jaintia Hills district, Hindustan Times reported.
The order came after the Meghalaya government told a bench headed by Justice AK Sikri that the workers trapped in the coal mine since December 13 may have died.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation seeking urgent directions to the central and state governments to rescue the trapped miners.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the Centre would not abandon efforts to rescue the miners. A status report submitted by the Centre said the search for the remaining miners were still in progress, according to PTI.
The Supreme Court bench posted the matter for further hearing on February 4.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had pulled up the government for its inefficiency in conducting rescue efforts and had asked for updates. It had also asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to seek assistance from experts and continue the efforts.
On January 15, the court had again rebuked the government, this time for not curbing illegal mining in the state. It had also refused to give mine owners extra time to transport coal that was extracted before the National Green Tribunal banned coal mining in Meghalaya in 2014.
About 200 personnel from the Navy, National Disaster Response Force, Coal India, and Kirloskar Brothers Limited are part of the mission to rescue the trapped miners. But rescue operations have been marred by extremely high water levels in the mine. Crores litres of water have been pumped out of the main shaft of the 370-foot-deep mine. Another 2 crore litres of water has been pumped out from adjacent mines, but the rescuers still do not know how and where the water is coming from.