Af­ter Ra­jma­hal dis­as­ter, CIL’S out­sourc­ing un­der a cloud

WORK­ERS, MINES SAFETY DI­REC­TOR-GEN­ERAL QUES­TION LAPSES

Resource Digest - - CONTENTS -

As out­sourc­ing gath­ers steam in Coal In­dia, ques­tions are be­ing raised over safety. In the wake of the re­cent ac­ci­dent in the Ra­jma­hal Open Cast Ex­pan­sion Project in Jhark­hand, which has so far claimed 18 lives, coal work­ers as well as the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Mines Safety (DGMS) have raised con­cerns about lapses in work­ers’ safety. Trade unions al­lege that safety as­pects are of­ten be­ing over­looked, as Coal In­dia is re­sort­ing to mas­sive out­sourc­ing of key mines and coal patches.

“Work­ers are be­ing put at risk as Coal In­dia is widen­ing con­trac­tual min­ing,” S Q Zama, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the In­dian Na­tional Minework­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion, said. He added se­cu­rity mea­sures were not im­ple­mented by con­trac­tors while Coal In­dia’s in­spec­tion was not up to the mark.

Al­though Coal In­dia is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing miners’ safety, even in out­sourced coal patches, it is the con­trac­tor who ac­tu­ally en­forces mea­sures. In case an ir­reg­u­lar­ity is no­ticed, the con­trac­tor re­ports it to the com­pany, which takes req­ui­site mea­sures. How­ever, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this sys­tem has been ques­tioned. Asked, if out­sourc­ing was re­sult­ing in safety lapses, Rahul Guha, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of mines, said, “There is no doubt about it. In­di­ca­tions of an im­pend­ing ac­ci­dent were over­looked. It is a man-made dis­as­ter.”

In its pre­lim­i­nary find­ings on the Ra­jma­hal mine ac­ci­dent, the DGMS has found cracks had de­vel­oped in the over­bur­den dump, which was not brought to no­tice, re­sult­ing in the slide. The Ra­jma­hal mine was con­tracted to Ma­ha­laxmi In­fra­con­tract.

How­ever, R Rmisha, chair­man of Western Coal­fields, who has re­cently been given ad­di­tional charge for Eastern Coal­fields, un­der which the Ra­jma­hal Open Cast Ex­pan­sion Project op­er­ates, is of the view that the ac­ci­dent is not the re­sult of over­bur­den dump fail­ure.

Coal work­ers have long been protest­ing against the ris­ing tide of out­sourc­ing in the com­pany, high­light­ing inequal­ity in wages and ben­e­fits and lapses in safety.

Coal In­dia’s con­tract work­ers ac­counted for 40 per cent of the pro­duc­tion five years ago and this has now reached 55-60 per cent.

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