Lights out: The dark truth behind coal mine accidents

Coal mining, miners
Considering that miners work in hazardous working conditions in a high-risk sector, safety is always a concern | PTI

Late on September 2, a detonator misfired deep inside an underground coal mine in Srirampur area of Telangana’s Mancherial district. Four miners were injured; three of them survived. The fourth one, Ratnam Lingaiah, 54, a coal cutter, had suffered a head injury. After being taken to a local hospital, he was being shifted to a bigger hospital in Hyderabad when he breathed his last.

It was the second incident in recent times. In June, an explosion at an opencast coal mine in Ramugundam in Telangana’s Pedapalli district killed four contract workers. The four deceased were identified as B Rajesh, Arjaiah, Rakesh and B Praveen. The place has nearly 50,000 workers engaged in coal mining operations. located across a 350-km stretch of the Pranhita-Godavari Valley.

Both the mines belonged to state-run Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL). Perhaps due to the recurring incidents, Lingaiah’s family didn’t have to run around for compensation. In fact, the day after the accident the company Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL) gave his family ₹15 lakh as compensation, which had been increased by the government in 2019 from ₹5 lakh.

But the trade unions and employee associations had demanded a judicial probe into the June incident and sought an ex-gratia of ₹1 crore to the families of the deceased and ₹50 lakh to the injured. Even as they were fighting for it, the September accident occurred, claiming the life of Lingaiah.

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