Rescue operation halted in Jharkhand mine accident

Ranchi, Jan 9 (IANS) Though five persons still remain missing in the December 30 open mine collapse in Jharkhand, Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) authorities have called off the rescue operation, an official said on Monday.

The tragedy at the Rajmahal Opencast Project of ECL, located at Lalmatia in Godda district, claimed 18 lives.

“The rescue operation has been halted due to technical reasons. If the rescue operation is continued, there are chances of accidents as there is strata movement on top of the mine,” said ECL General Manager (Mining) R.R. Amitabh.

He said: “There are at least five bodies trapped inside the caved-in mine. The rescue operation will be re-started soon.”

Meanwhile, despite nine days having elapsed since the accident, the party being held responsible for it is yet to be held.

On the complaint of Block Development Officer (BDO) Boarijor Rajeev Kumar, an FIR has been registered against Mahalaxmi Company, ECL and several other unnamed people. But it is surprising that the charges cited are for easily bailable offences.

Moreover, the Rs 12 lakh-compensation, which has been announced for the victims’ families, is yet to see the light of day.

Kin of the five workers, whose bodies are yet to be recovered, have now given up hope of finding the remains of their loved ones as the rescue operation has been halted.

Superintendent of Police Harilal Chouhan said he was waiting for the report of the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS).

DGMS sources say there was criminal negligence on part of the ECL officials and the outsourced company — Mahalaxmi.

The Coal Ministry also termed the incident “unprecedented”, noting that it had seen a solid floor area of 300 m X 110 m of the overburdened dump, slide down by about 35 metres, involving about 9.5 million cubic metres of earth.