Trapped miners yet to be rescued, CM admits illegal coal mining

SHILLONG, Dec 14: The 13 miners trapped in a rat hole mine after flooding in East Jaintia hills district on Thursday are yet to be rescued even as chances of finding them alive looks bleak.

The coal mine is located at Ksan village under Saipung police station close to Lytein River.

On Friday, teams of NDRF and SDRF have been pressed into service to carry out rescue operations.

According to authorities the depth of the coal mine is 340 feet and water level is 70 feet and divers were able to dive only till 30 feet.

Sylvester Nongtnger, East Jaintia Hills, Superintendent of Police (SP) said that the coal mine owner has been identified as James Sukhlain of Lumthari and he is absconding.

Nongtnger said that Sukhlain will be booked as per law under 188/304A/34 IPC R/w. Sec. 3(2)(d) PDPP Act & Sec. 21(1) MM(R&D) Act.

Meanwhile, after denying that there was illegal mining coal mining in the state, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma on Friday, admitted that the government was aware that illgal mining was going on.

“We are aware that illegal activities were going on. This is something which is not correct at all,” Conrad told the media via a video message on WhatsApp.

It may be mentioned that soon after the attack on women rights and RTI activist Agnes Kharshiing and her colleague Amita Sangma, Conrad had downplayed the allegations about illegal coal mining in the state.

The Chief Minister had then stated that as per information available with the government, no mining has been done ever since the NGT had put a ban in April 2014.

However, on Friday, the Chief Minister said that appropriate action will be taken at appropriate time against people who are involved in illegal coal mining.

“This is something that is not acceptable to us,” Conrad said.

According to him, what is important right now is to save the lives of individuals and said that continued efforts are going on and he is personally in touch with the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police and expressed hope and prayed that they will be rescued.

Saying that the incident is something which is unfortunate, Conrad said, “We are concerned of the individuals and their lives, NDRF as well as district administration and police are doing all they can to save lives of these miners stuck there, we are praying for them.”

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