Durgapur, July 31: Around 200 workers were stranded in seven coal mines of Asansol for around four hours when a blackout affecting half the country cut off electricity
to lifts in their underground pits, an Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) offcial said.
ECL authorities used power from the Dishergarh Power Supply Corporation to operate emergency lifts to bring out the workers, who were working in the first shift from 8am.
“There was no threat to their lives or any reason to panic. We managed to lift all the 200 miners safe by 5.30pm with the help of power from the DPSC.” said
Nildari Roy, a senior ECL official.
After grids collapsed around 1pm, the workers had got trapped in the mines in Sodepur and Satgram. The exhaust fans and lights at the 400 feet deep tunnels also stopped working, sending the miners into a panic.
“We were trying to see with the help of battery-operated torches fitted on our safety helmets. But we felt suffocated as the exhaust fans stopped working. We also feared a crack in the walls which can cause a flood in the mine,” said a miner at Chinakuri near Asansol.
Most lifts in the underground mines of ECL are operated through electricity though some of them also function with the help of steam.
According to the authorities, production at all the 84 underground mines of ECL had to be stopped in the first shift, leading to a loss of Rs 5 crore. The mines produce around 6,000 to 7,000 tones of coals each in three shifts of eight hours.
“We have already lost one shift and if power cannot be resumed by tonight, work in the other two shifts will also be hampered,” Roy said.
Production was partially possible through diesel-operated machines at some of the open-cast mines.
Officials also feared the loss in production would prevent them from supplying coal to the thermal power plants in the state tomorrow.
“If production is not resumed soon, we will fail to supply coal to the power plants tomorrow,” a senior ECL official said in the evening.