Coal mining fatalities on the rise

RISING number of deaths in mining accidents in Balochistan highlights the low level of safety in coal mines, many of which are unregistered and out of bound to officials of the Inspectorate of Mines. In the latest unfortunate incident on Saturday, at least sixteen miners were killed and six others injured after a coalmine collapsed in Marwar area of Quetta. Some labourers are reportedly still trapped under rubble of the mine, which collapsed due to a gas explosion.
While we pray that relevant quarters succeed in their efforts to recover the trapped miners, it is also high time that both the federal and provincial governments take requisite steps including passage of relevant laws to ensure that adequate safety standards are observed at the mines by the operators and efficient rescue services are available so that poor miners could stay safe who had to work in the most difficult conditions to make both ends meet. There is no doubt that the miners deserve far better workplace protection than they are presently being given. The mine owners must not only invest in proper lighting system in mines but also provide their workers proper equipment such as helmets, oxygen masks, safety glasses, gloves and torches attached to their bodies. According to Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF), about 100 to 200 labourers die on average in coalmine accidents every year. Coal mining is a very risky job. It is much more hazardous than hard rock mining due to leakage or explosion of poisonous gases and coal dust, collapsing of mine stopes or malfunctioning mining equipment.
It is also important that the miners are provided with proper safety training that prepare and involve them to deal with mining hazards. It is also important that relevant laws are passed that make it compulsory for the mine operators to pay sufficient compensation for the loss of every life. Currently Pakistan may not be a major mining country in terms of volume of production but as the mining activities in Thar as well as resource rich Balochistan are expected to pick up momentum in time to come, it is essential that we implement international conventions and practices on mining with the aim to ensure protection of the life of mineworkers.

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