Take care of miners’ plight


COAL mine accidents have become more frequent in Pakistan, especially Balochistan, indicating clearly the lack of safety measures at the mines which in fact have turned into death chambers for the poor miners. In the latest unfortunate accident, nine miners were reportedly killed in a mine located about thirty five kilometres from Quetta.
The regrettable part is that nobody at the senior government level takes notice of such horrific incidents. The fact of the matter is that unsatisfactory working conditions inside coal mines in Balochistan is claiming the life of miners on an almost daily basis in areas like Harnai, Sowrange, Dukki, Mach and other parts of the province and often such incidents go unreported. In most of the incidents, labourers dig 300 feet deep in coal mines where they reportedly suffocate to death owing to lack of oxygen. In order to obtain maximum production, mine owners and operators tend to force miners to work under dangerous conditions without proper training, machinery and tools. The contract system is quite repressive and exploitative and compels miners to put their lives at risk to earn a living. Apart from mine accidents, the labourers working at mines are also more prone to dangerous diseases such as kidney, asthma and lever problems. The main reason behind their diseases is the tough working environment they are working in. Therefore it is not surprising that Pakistan is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries for mine workers. The situation warrants urgent action on the part of both federal and provincial governments as well as mine operators to ensure safety and well being of the poor miners who are contributing greatly to the national exchequer by putting their lives and health at risk. Firstly efforts be made towards ensuring best possible safety measures at the mines. Given the hazards and risks involved of working at mines, the mine workers should be given best wages and compensation packages. These workers are not slaves and must not be treated in this manner. A dignified life with all the basic facilities including workplace safety and health is their fundamental right.