Have to believe in miracles, Centre to SC

NEW DELHI
11 Jan 2019

The Centre told the Supreme Court Friday that it has to "believe in miracles" and see if the 15 miners, who have been trapped for almost a month inside an illegal rat-hole coal mine filled with water in Meghalaya, come out alive.
It said the authorities were making all efforts to save the lives of these persons and the Indian Navy and planes and helicopters of the Indian Air Force have been deployed in the rescue operation. "We have to believe in miracles," Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told a bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer, which observed that it was not known if they were still alive. "There is no dispute that you are making efforts. Whether they (miners) are alive today, we do not know. May be somebody is alive there. You have to take them out," the bench told Mehta, adding, "You have to continue making efforts".
The apex court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Aditya N Prasad, who sought urgent steps to rescue the 15 miners. The Centre and the Meghalaya government apprised the bench about the steps taken in the operation to rescue the 15 miners who are trapped there since December 13 last year. The bench sought to know from the state government as to whether any action has been taken against those indulging in illegal mining activities in Meghalaya.
The state's counsel said the person running the illegal mine where the incident took place has been arrested. He apprised the bench that the Indian Navy has deployed five remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) in the operation and one crore litres of water had been pumped out from the illegal mine, but seepage from nearby rivers was creating hurdles in the rescue operation.
Senior lawyer Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, said they were happy with the steps taken by the authorities but there was problem of co-ordination among the agencies. He said there was no mapping of the mine as it was illegal but equipment was available in India which can go deep inside the water and help in ascertaining the topography of the site. During the hearing, Grover told the court that the Navy has deployed ROVs in the rescue operation but desired result was not coming out as smaller equipments were required there. He said smaller ROVs were available in India which can go deep inside the mine and take pictures even in muddy waters.
Regarding Grover's submission that there was a problem of co-ordination among the authorities, Mehta said additional chief secretary of Meghalaya was coordinating with every agency involved in the rescue operation. "No stone is left unturned to rescue these persons," Mehta said. (PTI)