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No change as rescue ops complete a month

SHILLONG: Efforts to rescue the 15 miners trapped in an illegal rat-hole coal mine at Ksan in East Jaintia Hills completed a month on Sunday without making any headway as divers of the NDRF and Indian Navy have not been able to get inside to conduct a proper search because of the high level of water that has refused to come down despite continuous dewatering.
“Lakhs of litres of water have been drained out from the ill-fated mine as well as a few abandoned ones in its immediate vicinity, but nothing has changed,” said an official of one of the agencies engaged in the dewatering process.
Water from the abandoned mines is also being drawn out on the assumption that these may be linked to the mine in which the miners are trapped and their dewatering would help to reduce the water level in the ill-fated one.
”The water level goes down as pumping goes on, but the moment the pumps are shut down for rest or re-fuelling, the water level is restored,” the official said.
While the dewatering exercise has not yielded the desired result, it has come in the way of some other work. “For instance, the Navy’s underwater remotely- operated vehicle (ROV) has got entangled a few times in the pipes and other accessories of the two submersible pumps in the shaft of the main mine,” he said. The ROV is used to detect objects underwater.
Given the circumstances, an idea that is being explored is to stop dewatering of the main mine entirely so that other gadgets can go about doing their job without any hindrance. The ‘job’ could involve both detection and extrication, if human interference is not possible because of unchanged water level.
“The dewatering of the other mines can simultaneously go on, and if these are indeed linked to the main mine then the water level in it will drop anyway,” another official said.
In the meantime, scientists and top notch agencies, known for their work in underground mines of the country, arrived at Ksan on Sunday to join the rescue operations.
Operation spokesperson R Susngi said that a team headed by a scientist and comprising experts from
Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute and Gravity and Magnetic Group had arrived.
Susngi said senior scientist of NGRI Devashish Kumar and his team have arrived for the operation. Another scientist from the Gravity and Magnetic Group, Niraj Kumar and his team too arrived as have Jayanti Gogoi of GPR and Vineet Upadhyay, who is heading the team of operators of the ROV from Chennai’s Planys Technologies.
The services of hydrologist Sudhir Kumar of the Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology have also been requisitioned. He has already conducted a study in this regard. (See map.)
The teams joined the 200 people from Indian Navy, NDRF and State Disaster Response Force, besides Coal India Ltd, Odisha Fire Service and Kirloskar Brothers Ltd who have been already at work.
The Supreme Court which is monitoring the rescue efforts has directed the authorities to step up their efforts and bring out the miners ‘dead or alive’. (With PTI inputs)

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