ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mine Disaster : Symptom of Ill-Health

The frequency of coal mine accidents tells a story of long neglect – of workers and of workplaces and of the industry itself. On Friday 38 miners in the Bagdigi colliery of Bharat Coking Coal near Dhanbad were trapped when routine explosives caused a breach resulting in water from an adjoining pond flooding the mine. With the floodwaters rapidly filling up the mine, there is now little chance of any of the miners coming out alive. While an inquiry into the disaster will no doubt be instituted, there appears to be sufficient evidence already to show that this was an avoidable tragedy.

The frequency of coal mine accidents tells a story of long neglect – of workers and of workplaces and of the industry itself. On Friday 38 miners in the Bagdigi colliery of Bharat Coking Coal near Dhanbad were trapped when routine explosives caused a breach resulting in water from an adjoining pond flooding the mine. With the floodwaters rapidly filling up the mine, there is now little chance of any of the miners coming out alive. While an inquiry into the disaster will no doubt be instituted, there appears to be sufficient evidence already to show that this was an avoidable tragedy.

Even as rescue work commences, with naval divers trying to locate survivors in the submerged mine, there are reports that miners had reported leaks in the separating wall for some time. Ironically, the two officers who are also trapped in the mine had gone down to inspect the leakage. While this smacks of a general apathy to the security and safety of the mine and the miners, the rescue team has found that the mine maps provided to it are out of date and do not accurately depict the layout of the mines. This not only hampers rescue work now, but must mean that miners were working in areas which had not been adequately mapped and determined to be safe. This is particularly risky in the Bagdigi and the adjoining Jairampur collieries which are surrounded by an area where mine fires have been raging underground for over 100 years. First reports also say that in the rush to reach production targets mine authorities may have exceeded safe mining limits.

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