Nagpur: The city-headquartered Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) seems to have learnt no lesson from the recent coal mine tragedy in Jharkhand in which a number of miners were killed and scores were feared trapped.
The WCL runs a 20-year old Telwasa open cast mine in Majri Sub-Area of Chandrapur district. Due to “high wall” level of the mine, the DGMS (Directorate General of Mines Safety) had enforced Section-22 a few days ago. Enforcement of Section-22 means working in the mine or carry production is fraught with inviting an impending tragedy. But still the WCL administration is going ahead with coal production for 24-hours since the past three days raising the question over credibility of DGMS warning, sources said.
Due to “high wall” level, a disaster struck the Jharkhand-based ECL’s Lalmatiya Coal Mine that claimed lives of a number of workers. The mining operation, which forms a part of the Eastern Coalfields Limited’s Rajmahal Opencast Project, was outsourced to the private firm Mahalaxmi Company. Sources said work at the mine had resumed barely three days ago. The same perilous situation prevails in Telwasa Open Cast Mine. The DGMS, during inspection five days ago, enforced Section-22 based on the fact-finding report. Enforcement of Section-22 means working in the mine or carry production is fraught with inviting an impending tragedy.
Directorate General of Mines Safety(DGMS), is the Indian Government’s Regulatory Agency and follows safety in mines and oil-fields under Mines Act. The task of the DGMS is to continually improve safety and health standards, practices and performance in the mining industry and upstream petroleum industry by implementingpro-active safety and health strategies; continuous improvement of processes; effective use of resources; and commitment and professional behaviour in its personnel.
A team of DGMS the other day inspected the Telwasa Open Cast Mine and observing the dangerous situation, imposed Section-22 and directed the WCL to stop production at the coal mine. However, mocking at the DGMS directive, the WCL administration is going ahead with coal production for 24 hours since the past three days.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a WCL official said that if production is going on despite Section-22, then the WCL administration could have “connived” with the team of DGMS so that there is no written record during production. The stock could then be “sold” for personal benefits with impunity.
Major disasters in the past:
- December 27, 1975: In one of the India’s worst mining disasters, 372 miners died in an explosion, followed by flooding, at the Chasnala coal mine near Dhanbad.
- September 26, 1995: As many as 64 workers died at the Gajlitand Colliery of the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) in Katras area when rainfall caused flooding at the mine.
- February 2, 2001: Twenty-nine miners died at the BCCL’s Bagdigi mines near Dhanbad. This disaster occurred when water from an adjoining mine flooded the one in which the victims were working.
- November 11, 2013: At least three mine workers and an officer were killed when the roof of an underground coal mine collapsed in the BCCL’s Basanti Mata coal mine in Dhanbad. Over 160 workers were trapped.