SHILLONG, April 13 - The Ksan coal mine rescue operation is probably the longest duration and costly operation witnessed anywhere in the world, spanning four months and continuing, with crores of rupees spent involving hundreds of experts and rescue personnel.
Rescue operation began on December 13 last year in the illegal rat-hole coal mine of East Jaintia Hills and continues because the Supreme Court has not given any clear direction when the operation should stop.
In January, the Supreme Court asked the Meghalaya Government to continue with the rescue operation. Last month it asked the petitioner who approached the Supreme Court to find out if the victims� families want the body to be retrieved.
On the other hand, the Meghalaya Government is set to petition before the Court to stop the rescue (retrieval of the bodies) operation.
With the early onset of monsoon the site of the rescue operation has become difficult for the 70-odd rescue personnel. The personnel are from the NDRF, SDRF and the pumping agencies Kirloskar, Coal India Limited and TSB, a Pune-based German pumping company.
�The road has become muddy due to rain and rescue operations were also halted for some days. However, the work is still continuing mainly to dewater the mines,� District Public Relation Officer of East Jaintia Hills, R Susngi said today.
From day one, the NDRF personnel were at work to rescue the trapped miners inside one of the mines which got flooded. There are conflicting reports as to how many miners are trapped. Some put the figure as high as 20, others say there are 13.
This conflicting report is because the mining was being carried out illegally and there were no records kept by the mine owner. Several of those trapped are believed to be poor labourers from Assam.
So far, only two bodies have been retrieved from the flooded mine. The first body was retrieved on January 24. It was identified as that of Amir Hussain of Chirang district, Assam.
The Indian Navy retrieved the bodies using Remote Operated Vehicles as divers are unable to get into the pressurised and murky mines.
However, days after the body was retrieved, the Odisha Fire Service who worked relentlessly, side by side with the NDRF and Indian Navy, to pump out water from the mine, has left. The Army and Navy have also left.
Till date, the point of water seepage has not been identified and efforts to dewater the mine have been futile and with the onset of Monsoon any hope to retrieve the bodies seems improbable.