NEW DELHI: Even as officials struggled to rescue miners stuck in a coal mine in Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, data from the Director General of Mines Safety revealed a 40 per cent rise in miner deaths across the country.While the number of miners who died at work was 55 in 2016, the number rose to 94 in 2017. In 2018, till August end, the country had seen deaths of 81 miners.
In terms of states, Jharkhand has topped the list in all three years with 11, 46 and 32 deaths in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. It is followed by Telangana with 13 deaths and West Bengal with nine deaths in 2018. “It is an unfortunate trend that we are witnessing. We are designing programmes and trying to make working conditions safer for coal miners. We are also talking to experts to design the programme. Hopefully, the programme would be ready soon and we can save lives,” a labour ministry official said.
The number of fatal accidents also witnessed a rise since 2016. While it was 54 in 2016, it rose to 67 the following year and 76 in 2018. Jharkhand topped the list in all the three years with 11 fatal accidents in 2016, 23 in 2017 and 31 in 2018.
In terms of serious accidents, Telangana was at the top in all three years. In 2016, India’s newest state saw 187 serious accidents in coal mines while the number fell slightly to 176 the following year. In 2018, the number of serious accidents in coal mines was 137.The official also said that the numbers were high for states likes Telangana and Jharkhand as the number of coal mines was high in these statse and a higher percentage of people were employed in them.
“If you see in Jharkhand, the Chhota Nagpur plateau area comprises large coal mines. Jharia, India’s largest coal deposits, is situated here and in Telangana, the Singareni Collieries are present. Hence the number of accidents and fatalities are more in these two states,” he added while speaking to reporters.
“We have analysed the safety of many mines and the outcome of the analysis indicated that skill-based errors are most critical and require immediate attention for mitigation. An accident prediction system would be imperative in mitigating the risks associated with coal workers in mines. A detailed plan can also be developed based on the results to reduce the risks,” Shikha Verma, an expert on mine safety and occupational hazards said.