15 Meghalaya miners are trapped inside an illegal coal mine in in the East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya since December 13. Following the three-week long unfruitful rescue operations, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea seeking urgent steps to rescue the miners immediately.

The fate of the 15 miners who went missing and were reportedly trapped inside the illegal and flooded coalmines in Ryngksan region of Lumthari village of Meghalaya since December 13 remains unknown, even after 21 days of rescue operation. The firefighters have been pumping out water from the flooded rat-hole mine with no success; the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel have been carrying out deep diving and drilling operations and reach to the bottom of the 370-feet deep mine; and a diving team of the Indian Navy actually went down the shaft of the mine – but nothing has proved to be successful so far.

On Wednesday, a PIL was filed by Aditya N Prasad in the Supreme Court, seeking urgent steps to be taken to rescue the trapped miners immediately. The plea also sought for directing the Centre and state authorities to form a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for rescue operations at the rat-hole mine of Meghalaya. Considering the nature of the case, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the PIL on the matter immediately, and might even be opted for urgent listing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul today.

However, the rescue teams will have to face innumerable challenges like making ways into the rat-hole mine that is flooded by the water from nearby Lytein River and surrounded by thick forests. There are no signs of life in the 70-feet-deep main shaft of the mine, which means, the miners may be trapped in the lateral channels – making rescue operations even tougher. Also, emission of gas inside the narrow mines is a major hurdle, but with the use of a well-thought plan and sophisticated equipment is the final ray of hope to save the ill-fated Meghalaya miners.