As rescue workers have failed to find even a single of the over 15 miners trapped in Meghalaya's rat-hole mine since December 13, the Supreme Court said the hunt must continue as "miracles do happen".
The top court has asked the centre and the Meghalaya government to consult experts and continue efforts to rescue the miners who are trapped in a 370 foot-deep illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills.
"Carry on with your rescue efforts, what if all or at least some are still alive? Miracles do happen," Justice AK Sikri, who headed the bench, said.
The court also asked the government about the action being taken against persons operating illegal mines and the officials who allowed illegal mining.
Earlier this week, the Meghalaya government in its status report had said there was no blueprint of the illegal coal mine as it was being run "clandestinely".
About 28 lakh litres of water has been pumped out of the main shaft, where 15 miners are trapped, however, there has been no significant drop in the water level in these mines, leaving rescuers clueless where and how to look for the diggers, officials said.
The water is entering into the mine from the nearby river and it is interlinked with at least 20 other mines in the region, the state government said, adding that the site is in a difficult terrain where public services, infrastructure and material required isn't easily available making rescue operations extremely challenging.
At least 200 rescuers from the navy, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), states fire service and others are doing all they can to find the miners.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the state government to deposit Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board towards restoring the environment after a panel headed by Justice (retd) BK Katakey found large-scale violations of a coal mining ban in Meghalaya.