January 7, 2019 - Rescue operations for the 15 miners trapped in a flooded illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district for the past 24 days hit a roadblock Sunday as the two high-powered pumps engaged in dewatering encountered technical glitches,reported news agency PTI.
The high-powered pumps of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd were recently pressed into action to dewater the main shaft, where the miners are trapped, the report said.
Another submersible pump from Coal India Ltd (CIL) also faced a snag, affecting dewatering operations in the nearby abandoned mines, the report added.
“Two pumps from Kirloskar Brothers and the submersible pump from Coal India encountered glitches and the dewatering process in the main shaft was affected,” R Susngi, spokesperson of the operation, told PTI.
The two high-powered pumps are undergoing repair work, he said, adding that the CIL pump was replaced with a new one.
The CIL is expected to put into operation at least three more pumps on Monday, Susngi added.
However, little headway could be made in reducing the water levels in the main shaft and the nearby mines due to the malfunctioning of the pumps and fresh seepage, the spokesperson said.
Rescue divers from the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) too could not venture down to gauge the water level inside the main shaft as it was beyond the safe diving limit of 100 feet, the spokesperson said.
The current water level in the main shaft is about 160 feet, while its total depth is around 370 feet.
Rescue work is suspended daily at around 5 pm as night falls. The Kirloskar Brothers pumps could be used for just one hour on Saturday, he said.
At least 15 miners are trapped in the illegal coal mine, whose owner has been arrested, since December 13.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress Sunday alleged that the BJP-backed Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government allowed illegal coal mining within six months of coming to power.
“The BJP and the National People’s Party (NPP) had both promised the people of the state to open up coal mining, if they were elected to power. Actually, what they did was open up illegal coal mining within six months,” the report quoted Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma saying.