SHILLONG: The Meghalaya government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the families of the victims, who were trapped inside a coal mine in December and are untraced till now, have consented to call off search operations, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said Thursday.
On the morning of December 13, a group of 16 miners went missing after water from Lytein river gushed into an illegal rat-hole coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills district in the state.
Only two bodies have been retrieved so far in the five-month-long search operation by teams of various agencies, including the NDRF, the Indian Navy and the Army.
On January 28, the apex court had asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue their multi-agency operations to trace the miners.
"We have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court informing that the family members of the miners have given their consent to call off the search and rescue operations. We are waiting for directions from the Supreme Court on the matter," Tynsong said.
In the affidavit, the government has attached the written consent received from the family members of the miners, he said.
District Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills F M Dopth had submitted the letters to the state government on April 16, citing that the operation is called off as there had been no tangible result.
Dopth, on his part, clarified that there was no reduction in the water level in the main shaft, where the miners were trapped, even after discharge of several crore litres of water.
Until Tuesday, submersible pumps were engaged in flushing out water from the 370-foot-deep mine, which is interconnected with eight other abandoned mines, he said.
"The operations came to a halt yesterday (Wednesday) as the Lytein river is in spate following incessant rainfall in the region," the official explained.
Last month, an interim relief package of Rs 3 lakh was paid to the miners' family members, who claimed that the amount was too meagre for their sustenance.