The WCL bosses, it appears, planning to produce a movie on the lines of Kaala Patthar which eloquently depicted the Chasnala tragedy, of course, now on its Sasti mine
Nagpur News: The Chasnala mining disaster is likely to repeat itself, albeit, at different mine. The disaster occurred on December 27, 1975 in a coal mine in Chasnala near Dhanbad in Bihar (Jharkhand). An explosion in the mine followed by flooding killed 375 miners when a roof of coal caved in. A massive 7 million imperial gallons of water per minute flooded into the mine. The miners were trapped under a mountain of debris and drowned when the water surged into the mine. The Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) was the owner of the mine. A film Kaala Patthar with a number eminent actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, etc depicted the tragedy.
The same picture (Situation, not the movie) could be witnessed in the Western Coalfields Limited’s (WCL) open cast mine at Sasti. The Sasti open cast mine has turned into like an underground mine following continuous excavation, and, now, the mine is hundreds of feet below from the surface.
Are the top WCL bosses contemplating to produce a movie like Kaala Patthar, which eloquently depicted the chain of events that finally resulted into a horrible tragedy? The plan appears true after considering the facts the WCL bosses had and have been selectively neglecting as far as safety aspect of the miners working at the Sasti coal mine is concerned. A tragedy of enormous proportion looms over the Sasti mine as WCL is not following the rules and regulations for safety of miners and the mine as well.
Even though one may witness slogans and boards at many places around the mine for following the rules and regulations for safety, leave alone the top officials of WCL, even the miners, have been found breaking the rules of safety.
According to sources, hundreds of trucks ply nearby the surface as well as inside the mine through roads constructed for easy lifting and transporting the coal from the mine to other places of dumping. However, during rainy season the condition of these roads turn to worst as rain water gets logged on various patches and a huge quantity of mud makes truck driving very difficult leading to smaller or bigger landslides many times.
However, the real danger is in deadly proportion if the mine caves in during rainy season and the tremors caused by continuous traffic of heavy trucks or tippers. Another, danger lies within the grounds surrounding the mine in the shape of massive quantity of water soureces. One shudders to think the aftermath of caving in the mine and heavy rush of water flow the landslides would trigger flooding most of the mine areas. The tragedy could claim many lives of miners as it happened in the Chasnala disaster.
The WCL has taken care of the safety aspect by implementing rules and regulations but the miners themselves and the Controlling Officer of WCL are violating the rules and regulations on safety with great impunity, and the top WCL bosses, too, care a hoot. The WCL has erected view points at various vantage spots around the Sasti mine and the spots are handled by security personnel. However, any person with nefarious designs could enter the restricted area if the security personnel neglect the security aspect.
The WCL is also responsible for safety of miners from all odds like deteriorating health particularly for the lung disorders the miners fall victims due to life-threatening pollution, physical injuries the excavation of coal inflicts on them, the continuous flow of trucks or tippers which may lead to major accidents etc. The WCL provides safety jackets to miners but takes back when the excavation activity or other coal related works are not being carried out. However, the WCL authorities keep an up to date record of supplying all safety related material to miners for the sake of record only.
Even the top officers enter the mine without helmets, without safety shoes, without dust mask for inspection of mine from various angles and sometimes direct the concerned authorities to take steps for safety of miners and other WCL workers. The concerned authorities, too, say “Yes Sir,” “yes sir” to every suggestion but in reality the “Yes Sir” is limited till the top bosses are present. Once the inspecting authorities vanish the safety is also buried into the mine.
The most dreadful fact is that hundreds of tons of explosives are stored in depots nearby the mine but the security personnel never remain at the depots to guard the explosives except one or two guards not to mention the Inspector who monitors the movement of explosives. A terror-minded person could be successful in carrying out his nefarious designs.
Finally, the outcome of all these “most feared aspects” is that the disaster of Chasnala proportion or to some extent less proportion is waiting to happen. The only hope to avert the tragedy is an efficient WCL.