Rescue work at mine not abandoned: Centre

The Centre on Monday dismissed the charge made in the Supreme Court that it had “abandoned” the operations to rescue the miners trapped in a flooded Meghalaya rat-hole mine since December 13, even as the State said the “bodies of the remaining miners are behind the body detected on January 16” by the Navy’s underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in a narrow shaft 210 feet below. Counsel for Meghalaya Avijit Mani Tripathi told a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer that the unidentified body was in a decomposed state and it would be “virtually impossible” to retrieve it. The space was too narrow to bring the body out and the danger of “disintegration” of the body was high. The State said it was consulting the families of the missing miners about future action. Senior advocate Anand Grover, representing the PIL petitioner-advocate Aditya N. Prasad, said the authorities were “trying to abandon the operation.” Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, intervened and said: “There is no intention to abandon the operation. It is still going on.” Referring to the 11-page affidavit filed by Meghalaya on the status of the operation , Mr. Tripathi said the body was found “lying prostrate…” “The miner was found wearing a red T-shirt and jeans,” the affidavit said. It said the ROV was utilised for moving the body from 210 feet to 100 feet. “However, there are signs of decay, making the evacuation of the body difficult.”

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