With rescue operation still halted, mining activity has been resumed at the Lalmatia mine of Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) in Jharkhand where 18 persons were killed in a December 30 accident, an official said on Wednesday.
Five people are still trapped in the mine where mining was resumed last week by ECL.
"The mining has been started. The rescue operation is still halted. We are preparing an approach road for rescue operation. We cannot say when the rescue operation will be resumed," R.R. Amitabh, ECL General Manager (Mining) told IANS.
According to Amitabh, at present the production of coal at Lalmatia mine is 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes per day as against 60,000 tonnes per day prior to the mine accident. There was no mining for ten days causing a loss of 6,00,000 tonne of coal production to ECL.
The Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS), in an affidavit to Jharkhand High Court, said the investigation of the mine accident will be completed in two months, adding that the mine was not safe for mining.
"The mine was being run in a dangerous manner and basic safety norms were not taken care of," a DGMS official told IANS.
DGMS filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Jharkhand High Court and categorically stated that the mine was not safe for mining.
A mine caved in at the open cast Rajmahal Project of the ECL located at Lalmatia of Godda district leaving 18 people dead and at least five others still missing.
The rescue operation has been halted due to technical reasons. The ECL admits that some people were still trapped in the mine.
"It was like landslide in the open cast mine. Nearly 9 lakh cubic metres of piled up dirt caved in. It was the biggest mine accident in an open cast mine," an official from Godda district administration told IANS.
DGMS sources say there was criminal negligence on the part of the ECL officials and outsourced company.
The Coal Ministry also termed the incident "unprecedented", noting that it had seen an area of 300 metres length by 110 metres width solid floor of the overburden dump area slide down by about 35 metres involving around 9.5 million cubic metres of earth material.
"This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip," it said.