Families of nine of the 16 miners trapped inside an illegal rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya since December, have given consent to the district administration to stop the ongoing search operations which entered its 130th day on Sunday, officials said. The bodies of only two victims one from nearby Lumthari village and another from Assam, have been retrieved from the mine in East Jaintia Hills district early this year.
"We have received letters of consent from the families to stop the ongoing search operations. The letters, submitted by families to the district administration, have been sent to the state government and the same will be submitted to the Supreme Court for granting necessary approval," a senior official told PTI.
Those who have written to the administration include families of two miners hailing from Lumthari village in East Jaintia Hills and the rest from Assam, the official said. The miners were trapped after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into the 370-feet deep mine in Lumthari village in the Ksan area on December 13 last year.
On January 28, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue their multi-agency operations to rescue the miners. The families, however, have requested that the compensation be increased, he said.
East Jaintia Hills district deputy commissioner FM Dopth had submitted all the letters to the state government on April 16 last and cited that the operation be called off as there had been no tangible result. Dopth also informed that there was no reduction of water level at the main shaft where the miners are trapped even after several crores litre of water had been discharged.
Currently, submersible pumps of Coal India Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and KSB are engaged in pumping out water from the ill-fated mine and nearby mines on a daily basis. The ongoing operation involves the NDRF, the Indian Navy, the Army and the Air Force besides the states disaster response team and the fire services.
The Supreme Court monitors the operation on a weekly basis. The district administration has paid Rs 3 lakh interim relief to the families of the 16 miners trapped in the mine at Ksan area but the families have demanded the relief amount be increased, Dopth said.
Of the 21 miners who went down on the morning of December 13 last year, 5 narrowly escaped the flooded mine and the rest were trapped.