Water level in Meghalaya coal mine recedes by 22 feet

Shillong: Even as attempts to rescue five workers trapped in an illegal rat-hole mine in Umpleng in East Jaintia Hills district are proving futile, Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Thursday said that the owner of the mine has surrendered.

The mine owner has been identified as Shining Dkhar. However, the police are still on the lookout of the ‘sordar’ (mine manager) as he is still absconding. A lookout notice has been issued in this regard.

After visiting the site on Wednesday, Rymbai said that the rains have been hampering the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, a team of expert divers belonging to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has reached the mishap spot. Fifteen personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are already undertaking the rescue operation along with a team from the fire and emergency services department since May 31.

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“The pit of the mine is more that 500 feet, and three motors have been used to pump out the water. The SDRF team had gone down to the pit and noticed that the water level is at 152 feet,” Rymbai said.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma minister once again assured that any illegalities under his governance will not be allowed.

Sangma said that even though there is a law to stop many illegal things, they still happen. “The law is there to ensure that action is taken against those who break the law. Appropriate action will be taken against those involved in this. All efforts are being continuously made from the government’s end.” he said.

“After receiving all the reports, we have found that this particular mine was abandoned. From the initial reports that we received, there were some kind of activities which looked like they were looking at options of starting the mine there,” Sangma said.

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Sangma added that the rescue operation is important, and they will ensure that every resident is protected. “The weather has made it difficult. We hope that if the rain stops, there will be scope for rescue work. NDRF has reached the site. Even the home minister has personally visited the site and is monitoring the situation,” said Sangma.

Minister Rymbui said that as soon as they received the information they acted on it quickly. “Investigation started, and on May 31 itself, we were able to identify the people involved in this illegal mining,” he added.

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