PATNA: With the bodies of ten miners extracted on Friday from under the debris at a coalmine that collapsed in Jharkhand’s northern Godda district and rescue operations continuing to save nearly 20 others believed to be trapped, two mining mishaps in the state in the past 24 hours have raised questions about
maintenance of mandatory safety standards.
When workers and machinery were engaged in mining operations some 200 feet beneath the ground at the Pahadia Bhodaye site in Rajmahal Opencast Project of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, a large heap of top ground caved in and blocked the entry point of the colliery, said
officials. The incident took place at about 8 PM on Thursday. Although the cause of the mishap is yet to be confirmed, the Ministry of Coal described the mishap as “unprecedented” and said it prima facie appeared to have resulted from “a failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip”.
Four of the dead workers were from Bihar, three from Jharkhand and one each from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, said sources. Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next
of kin of each dead worker while ECL announced ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh for each death. PM Narendra Modi and coal minister Piyush Goyal expressed grief over the deaths.
“Rescue work is being carried out by NDRF personnel. We will take steps to ensure no recurrence of such mishaps,” said Jharkhand chief secretary Rajvala Verma after visiting the mishap site on Friday.
While the Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) has been asked to probe the causes of the mishap, local people and Opposition political parties accused ECL and the executing agency, Mahalaxmi Company, of compromising safety standards to save costs.
ECL sources said the mishap took place as the workers were forced to continue mining operation even after their team leader had warned about the likelihood of collapse due to continued extraction of
coal at the 12-year-old colliery.
The second mishap was reported in Putki Balihari area in Dhanbad district on Friday, in which four workers were injured, two of them seriously. The roof of the coalmine of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), also a subsidiary of CCL, partially collapsed.