The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the State Government over the collapse of a coal dump of the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd in Sundargarh district that claimed 11 lives on August 10.
The Commission has directed the Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report on the incident within four weeks.
The directions came in response to a complaint filed by rights activist Prabir Das alleging callous attitude of the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd authorities in ensuring public safety by not taking mandatory steps to prevent accident of the kind that was witnessed at Kulda coal mine in Basundhara-Garjangabahal area of the district.
The incident took place when a huge portion of the coal dump collapsed on the people from the nearby villages collecting coal from the overburdened dump.
“The most shocking aspect is that the MCL authorities did not take adequate safety measures to prevent people from entering the site even though it was common for the locals to collect coal and sell it for their livelihood. Even guards were not posted to prevent the trespassing. The accident was just waiting to happen,” Das alleged.
Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd has announced an ex gratia of ` 3 lakh for the families of the victims besides `10,000 for funeral. It will also bear the cost of treatment of the injured.
But Das has called for increasing the compensation amount to at least ` 25 lakh for each dead and ` 5 lakh for the injured besides a job for one member of the bereaved families.
While praying for an independent enquiry and fixing responsibility on the MCL authorities or officials concerned, Das has also appealed for issuing guidelines for ensuring proper safety measures in coal mines to prevent such fatal incidents in future.