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Meghalaya Govt to Give Rs 1 Lakh to Families of Workers Trapped in Mine Since 11 Days

Compensation will be given to the next of kin of all the miners who have either been injured or killed in the incident.

PTI

Updated:December 23, 2018, 8:02 AM IST
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Meghalaya Govt to Give Rs 1 Lakh to Families of Workers Trapped in Mine Since 11 Days
Rescuers work at the site of a coal mine that collapsed in Ksan, in Meghalaya, on December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Sannio Siangshai)
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Lumthari: The Meghalaya government on Saturday announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the 15 miners trapped in an illegal rat-hole coal mine and sought high power submersible pumps from the Coal India Ltd to rescue them.

The coal mine is located in East Jaintia Hills district of the state and the miners have been trapped there since December 13.

The relief was announced as per directions of the National Green Tribunal Committee (NGT), a state government official said.

The NGT committee, during a meeting with state government officials on Thursday, had asked them to pay compensation to the next of kin of all the miners who have either been injured or killed in the incident. "We have announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh for the families of the trapped miners," Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district F M Dopth said.

He said the government gave the approval on Friday night and notices were sent to the family members of the miners through their respective police stations.

Superintendent of Police (SP) of East Jaintia Hills district Sylvester Nongtynger said that seven of the trapped labourers hail from West Garo Hills district, five from Assam and three from the remote Langthari village, where the accident took place.

On December 13, around 20 labourers entered the 370-foot mine at about 8 AM. After reaching the bottom of the pit, they entered the horizontal manholes, often termed as 'rat-holes', as each just about fits one person to get in.

According to villagers, one of the diggers could have accidentally punctured the walls of the cave and the river water gushed in immediately, trapping the miners inside. Only five persons managed to climb out of the mine. Of them, two are locals and police are after the remaining three who had fled to West Garo Hills district.

About 100 rescue personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the state police are involved in the rescue operation at the site.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had said Friday that it will take 200 pumps to flush all the water out. Currently, only two pumps are engaged in flushing the water out of the shaft.

NDRF Assistant Commandant S K Singh, who have been camping at the site since December 14, said that the water level is not going down as desired. "Our divers are not able to go in since there is no significant drop in the water level. It was established that the water from Lytein river had flooded the mine as the pH level is the same," he said.

On Saturday, a team of experts from survey department also arrived at the village to take stock of the water level at different points along the 2 km stretch of the Lytein river. "Our job is to determine the water level at different points along the river in the vicinity of the mine," said A Shangpliang, the Deputy Director of the Survey Department.

"A comparison can then be made to the water level at the mine and then determine which part of the river is connected to the mine," Shangpliang said.

Shangpliang said at least 14 points have been mapped so far and the results will be submitted to the government.

One person has been arrested in the case so far and the police are on the lookout for the mine owner, the SP said. The arrested person, identified as Krip Chullet, was allegedly involved in hiring labourers, overseeing the work and sending them down the shaft.

The Meghalaya government had sought the Union Home Ministry's help to rescue the miners. The NDRF teams, which are involved in the rescue operation, had earlier suggested the district administration to ask the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation to deploy submersible water pumps to reduce the water level.

In 2014, the National Green Tribunal had imposed a ban in Meghalaya on rat-hole coal mining, a technique that entails digging small vertical pits to reach the mineral pockets.
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