NDRF still awaits pumps; activist to move for CBI probe

NDRF personnel gearing up to enter the coal mine pit in Meghalaya on Wednesday. (Photo by Sannio Siangshai)

NDRF personnel continued to wait for more powerful water pumps even as the search for 15 missing coal miners in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district entered its 14th day on Thursday.

The miners got trapped in the 250-feet deep pit at Ksan, situated about 150-km east of Meghalaya capital Shillong after water gushed on December 13, after they probably cut its wall. The pit is situated close to a river.

The NDRF team, which was rushed to the site the next day, had sought at least ten 100 horsepower pumps on December 16 as the two 25 horsepower pumps failed to reduce the 70-feet water in the collapsed coal mine.

“Today morning our personnel again went down in the pit to assess the water level and see if there is any floating object. We suspected that water level could rise since we stopped pumping out water on Monday but the water level has remained same,” Santosh Kumar Singh, assistant commandant of the 1st battalion of NDRF, who is supervising the search at the site, told DH over the phone.

Sources said more powerful pumps from Coal India Limited and Kirloskar Brothers, a private company were on their way and are likely to reach the site on Friday.

Meghalaya government had faced much flak over its alleged neglect to the search operation and its failure to check coal mining, which was banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014. Many in the state questioned why the Centre did not rush better equipment to Meghalaya even as it was ready to extend help for the rescue of 12 footballers trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand in June this year.

Jaswant Singh Gill, a mining expert, who had visited the site on December 16, had suggested them to identify the water entry point, plug it and flush out water. Gill had rescued 65 coal miners trapped in a flooded mine in West Bengal in November 1989.

Gill had told DH on Tuesday that chances of survival of the missing miners was thin and only a miracle could be expected.

Ruling NPP leader surrenders

Nidamon Chullet, vice-president of the ruling National People’s Party’s East Jaintia Hills district unit, surrendered on Wednesday. He was wanted in a case related to an attack on two activists on November 8.

 
The activists--Anges Kharsiang and Amita Sangma, campaigning against illegal coal mining in Meghalaya, were seriously injured after they had clicked photographs of trucks carrying coal.
 
“Chullet had attacked us and his surrender has proved that NPP leaders are hands-in-glove with illegal coal miners. I have been saying this for a long time that there is a strong nexus of ruling NPP leaders, police and coal miners but our complaints have remained neglected. I will soon write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a CBI inquiry into the incident,” Amita said.
 
The activist had earlier moved Meghalaya high court seeking a CBI inquiry into the alleged nexus.

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NDRF still awaits pumps; activist to move for CBI probe

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