Take ‘prompt’ steps to rescue trapped miners in Meghalaya: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that “prompt, immediate and effective steps” are required to augment the operations for the rescue of 15 miners trapped in flood water-hit mines in Meghalaya, and expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of measures taken so far.

Observing that adequate steps have not been taken and there was a lack of co-ordination, the bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer said that it is a situation of life and death of 15 miners trapped in the flooded mines.

“We are not satisfied with the rescue operations. No matter whether they are all dead or some alive, they should have been taken out. We pray to God they are alive,” said Justice Sikri taking a dim view of the ongoing rescue operations.

Directing the listing of the matter on Friday as first item, Justice Sikri queried why was Army not being asked to help in the rescue operations.

“At least the Union of India should do something…it should take the help of Army which has volunteered to help the rescue operations. Why can’t you take the help of Army? People are there for rescue operation but there is no co-ordination,” Justice Sikri told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, whose presence was sought by the bench.

The strong observation of the bench on the inadequacy of the response and lack of co-ordination came during the hearing of a PIL by a lawyer Aditya N. Prasad seeking deployment of more manpower and equipment including 100hps pumps to flush out the water from the in the rescue operations. operations.

The petitioner lawyer has contended that Kirloskars and Tata Trust have offered high-powered equipment for flushing out the water.

Addressing the concerns of the court on not requisitioning the Army to help in the rescue operations, Solicitor General Mehta said that 14 specialised Navy divers have been deployed for the rescue operations.

Telling the court that Navy sappers have been sent to help the rescue operations, the Solicitor General said that “Army will not work” in the handling of the tragedy.

As Mehta said that a 72-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already there, the court retorted “but there is no outcome”.

The court also noted that these were illegal mines.

Senior counsel Anand Grover appearing for the petitioner lawyer said that expert divers from the United Kingdom have offered to assist in the rescue operations but the government has not responded yet.

Recalling the way the Thailand government had responded in rescuing the members of its junior football team that was trapped in a cave, Grover said that the Thai government had airlifted the high pressure pumps of Kirloskars to flush out the waters, but our government has not shown the same promptness in airlifting the equipment even though that has been offered by the Kriloskars and the Tata Trust.