Joda: The celebration of the 57th Mine Safety Week Sunday at Kendriya Kelahapadia in Joda of Keonjhar was a glittering show but a reality check on safety of workers engaged in the mining sector gives a starkly deplorable picture.
The Safety Week ceremony was attended by regional director of General Mines Safety (Chainbasa) R Subramanyam, deputy director general Dinesh Kumar Sahu, mines safety director Altaf Hussain Ansari, Ranchi Mines safety director Supriya Chakraborty, mine lease holder Dipti Ranjan Pattnaik and several other people from mining sector were present.
Many mining firms were honoured on the occasion but various quarters pointed out the hazardous conditions under which the mine workers operate.
In reality, scores of workers are employed in mines in hazardous conditions without any safety tools.
Issues such as safety, welfare and health of workers, employed in mines, are protected under various Acts including the Mines Act, 1952 and particularly the ‘Rules and Regulations’ which come under the very act.
Proper implementation of the act is administered by the Directorate- General of Mines Safety (DGMS), under the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. Moreover, Coal Mines Regulations, 1957; Metalliferous Mines Regulations, 1961 and Mines Rules, 1955 also ensure safety of mine workers.
Labour leader Maheswar Rout was critical of the way mines safety week was observed with extravagancy.
“The amount of money spent on the safety week should have been utilised for welfare and safety of workers and conducting awareness drives. Most mines are witnessing mishaps which can be checked if precautions are taken up,” he observed. It was alleged that mine workers in most cases are deprived of various benefits, entitlements and health services. Rout alleged that mining companies are yet to giving attention to safety of workers while they are raking in moolah.
Indubitably, the mining sector has contributed the most to the district’s economy but at the same time it has exacerbated pollution caused by dust from mineral transportation. Dust particles in mines area have been causing diseases in labourers, it was said.
Speaking on the occasion, Director of General Mines Safety (Chainbasa) R Subramanyam said that he felt like going through a thick cover of fog in the morning when he was reaching the venue. “But it was not fog,” he pointed out. He indirectly admitted that mining areas were severely affected by dust pollution.
Odisha’s mines have a direct influence on the economy of India and world trade. With the help of Odisha mines, steel production in India is predicted to double by 2031, which would contribute about 2.1 per cent to the GDP of the nation and in the next decade, its share should be exceeding three per cent. Besides iron and steel, there are other minerals from Odisha’s mines which would transform India’s economy forever. India’s target is to grow annually at 12 per cent over the next five years, to a $5 trillion GDP by 2024 and Odisha would play a significantly dominant role in this unprecedented growth story