New Delhi: Expressing “dissatisfaction” over the manner in which the Meghalaya government has been undertaking operations to rescue the 14 miners who have been trapped inside an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills since December 13 last year, the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday called it a "serious issue".
"Every second counts for those trapped inside the mine," a two-judge bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer noted, adding: "It is a question of life and death."
The apex court was hearing a PIL that sought a direction to the Centre and the Meghalaya government to utilise the services of of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force to rescue the miners at the earliest.
The petition also sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) for rescue operations in 'mines and other similar conditions'.
The SC asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to look into the matter urgently and apprise the court of steps taken on Friday.
It also asked the government what steps it has taken to save the miners and why are they still unsuccessful. Responding to the bench, the Meghalaya government's lawyer said that they have taken adequate steps in the rescue operation and that the Centre was also supporting them.