Miners’ fate uncertain, Mukul Sangma lambasts government for ‘insensitivity’

Meghalaya

Shillong, Jan 3 (IANS) Even as the fate of 15 miners trapped in a coal mine for over three weeks now remains uncertain, leader of Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly Mukul Sangma on Thursday lambasted the National People’s Party (NPP)-led government for its failure to save the lives of the miners.

“It is shameful and they should be strongly condemned for their insensitivity. They have brought shame to the state and the nation,” said the veteran Congress leader.

“The responsibility of the government is to ensure safety. After so many days, was there any indication to show their seriousness? This reflects their lack of sensitivity which has antagonized the people, especially the families of the victims,” Sangma said.

Noting that the culpability aspect has to be taken and punishment as per law has to be ensured, the leader of Opposition said, “Due process of law has to be initiated against the authorities concerned based on the culpability aspect for not responding on time in saving precious lives.”

He said illegal mining has been going on East Jaintia Hills, “exposing the NPP-led government’s lies”. He said it appeared the government led by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was facilitating and encouraging illegal mining.

The Green Court had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya since April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the National Green Tribunal alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in Jaintia Hills.

“The order of the NGT is very clear that the onus to stop illegal mining and comply with the NGT directives lies with the Chief Secretary and the DGP and all other officers, starting from the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP),” Sangma said

The Supreme Court also expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of the rescue operations at Ksan coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district.

“We are not satisfied with the rescue operations. No matter whether they are all dead or some alive, they should have been taken out. We pray to God they are alive,” said a bench of Justice A. Sikri and Justice Abdul Nazeer taking a dim view of the ongoing rescue operations.

Meanwhile, rescuers at the accident mining site are making all efforts to drain out the water from the shafts nearby the main one where the 15 miners are trapped in a 37-ft flooded mine over three weeks now.

But the fate of the miners remains uncertain.

On Monday, Indian Navy divers had located a wooden structure, coal lying beneath and one rat hole with coal at its mouth inside the flooded mine.

They had sought dewatering the flooded mine so that the divers could dive to the bottom of the 370-feet coal pit.

The tragedy came to light after five miners escaped the coal pit.

More than 200 rescuers are taking part in the rescue operations.

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