SHILLONG, July 12 - One of the world�s longest and costly operations, the Ksan coal mine rescue operation in Meghalaya, came to a close today after seven months, following approval from the Supreme Court.
�The State Government requested the Supreme Court to permit formally closing the operation to retrieve the bodies of trapped miners. Supreme Court permitted the State to close the operations,� State Advocate General, Amit Kumar said.
The operation has cost the State exchequer Rs 3.5 crore so far. �There are pending bills to be sent to the State government,� East Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth said.
The rescue operations began on December 13, 2018, in one of the illegal rat-hole coal mines of East Jaintia Hills district after coal miners were trapped inside. Just two bodies, out of the several others, were retrieved during this period.
It�s believed that the miners were trapped and drowned within minutes after water flooded in from the adjacent Lyten river. However, following a petition in the Supreme Court, direction was given to the State Government to continue the operations and at least retrieve the bodies.
During the operations, first the State and the National Disaster Response Forces were involved. Thereafter, the Odisha Fire Service (OFS) personnel joined in. During the course of the operations the Army and the Navy also got involved.
It was the Navy divers, which was first able to detect one of the bodies with the help of its underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). The first body was retrieved on January 24 this year and was identified as that of Amir Hussain of Chirang district, Assam.
The second body was retrieved again with the help of the ROV on February 27. But as the operations dragged on the rescue team were of the opinion that retrieving the bodies would be difficult from the 280 feet deep flooded mine shaft.
One of the objectives of the rescue operations was to dewater the flooded mine shaft. Technicians from Coal India Limited, TSB, a Pune-based German pumping company and Kirloskar Brothers with their heavy duty pumps tried to dewater the flooded mine. But they were unsuccessful as water continued to seep in from an unknown source inside the mine shaft.
So experts and scientists were called in from around the country to see if they would be able to identify the source of the seepage with their advanced technology. Some of the experts and scientists came from National Geophysical Research Institute, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee.
These experts and scientists could make little headway in the absence of any available data in these illegal mines and the adjoining areas and left in a couple of days after their arrival.
After months of toiling the OFS, Indian Army, and Navy personnel also left, one after the other and all along the State Government was hoping for the operations to end after filing a petition before the Apex Court.
The NDRF and SDRF stayed put at the site continuing with dewatering of the mine shaft. In fact, the entire area was flooded with the advent of monsoon and so the operations were stopped for quite some time now.