Coal mine accidents

Labour ministry is seldom bothered

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On Friday seven coal miners were killed and three others injured in a gas explosion in a mine some 60km east of Quetta. The explosion reportedly occurred due to a spark that set the methane gas inside the mine on fire. The spark could either have been caused by the lanterns the miners usually use to light the operations down there or the tools used to do the digging. The blast caused a portion of the mine to cave in, trapping all the workers deep inside.

As many as 120 miners were killed in 2019 whereas in 2018 the number was 164. This year already one accident has occurred and this was the second one.  It is true that mining is a difficult job and absence of safety measures, lack of proper training of labourers besides the use of old equipment only increases the chances of accidents. Moreover there is seldom any inquiry into an accident and the mine owners and management just move on without caring for the lives lost. The labourers mostly come from poor background. They neither have the knowledge of their rights nor have the resources to claim due compensation in case of an accident. We do not even know if such workers are insured or not for the dangerous work they do.

Since most of these accidents occur on the peripheries in Balochistan and Khbyer-Pakhtunkhwa the labour ministry is never bothered to pursue these cases and make it binding upon the mine owners to implement the ILO regulations and ensure safety of the workers as well as their financial rights.

A regular inspection of mines by the competent authorities shall also ensure that mines vulnerable to accidents are closed.  And owners are made to hold an independent inquiry into every accident, hold those responsible to account and compensate for any lives lost.