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ECL supervisor vanishes in 250ft pit

Durgapur, Jan. 29: An Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) surveyor has disappeared from inside the mine around 250ft underground.

Panchkori Nandi, 57, had gone into pit No. 6 of the Khaskajora colliery in Durgapur’s Andal yesterday with six other mine officials and surveyors to take a stock of the situation around 10am.

Nandi fell ill in the intense heat and was told to sit down and rest by his colleagues. But when the team returned after their survey, he was missing.

“He told us he was having problems breathing because of the heat about 250ft below the surface. We told him to sit down and take rest as we proceeded for inspection deeper into the mine. We returned within 15 minutes because of the heat but could not find Nandi. We thought he might have returned to the surface. But when we came up, Nandi had not returned,” said Ganesh Hansda, a miner who had accompanied Nandi.

Liftman Kanai Roy said Nandi did not come out of the mine.

Miners go into mines and come up in motorised lifts. The liftman is called “ghanta man” by miners. If a miner wants to return to the surface out of turn, he pulls a string that rings and informs the liftman. Roy said no out-of-turn bell was rung when the team that Nandi was part of had gone inside the pit.

Hansda said coal miners deposit their cap lamp (helmet fitted with a light) to the clerk at the issuing section but Nandi did not do so. “The clerk told us that Nandi did not deposit his cap lamp,” he said.

The miners informed senior ECL officials, who immediately launched a search and sent rescue teams into the pit.

Over 100 coalminers today demonstrated at the colliery office and the office of the general manager of the Kajora mining area in phases since morning demanding that ECL trace Nandi soon. “ECL will have to find out Nandi soon. He has been missing for over 24 hours but why ECL’s rescue teams can’t find him,” said Kedarnath Maji, Nandi’s cousin and also a miner.

The police said they had started a probe and detained a surveyor, S.K. Karmakar, for interrogation.

Sunil Yadav, the additional deputy commissioner of police (east), said: “We have started an investigation. We have already detained one person for interrogation.”

Nandi was transferred to the Khaskajora mine four months ago from the nearby Parashkol colliery. He lives in the colliery quarters with wife Aparna at Mukundapur village in Andal. Aparna today said she came to know that her husband had gone missing from neighbours and colleagues, not the ECL authorities.