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3 die in stone quarry

Dumka, Dec. 26: Three women workers were crushed under boulders following a blast at an illegal stone quarry in Pakur district last evening, once again highlighting the administration’s failure to clamp basic safety norms at small and medium quarries.

Malti Hembrom (45), Sonamuni Marandi (35) and Thuri Baski (45) — residents of Mayagaon village — were working at the stone crusher unit at Raddipur around 6pm when their fellow workers triggered a dynamite blast. Huge chunks of stones started falling, killing three on the spot.

Today, Pakur SDPO Chandan Jha and district mining officer Vibhuti Kumar rushed to the quarry to conduct investigation. After a preliminary probe, the administration lodged an FIR against the owner of the quarry, Suleman Marandi, who runs the unit illegally from a plot owned by him.

“I have directed the district mining officer to find out whether the owner has authorisation to run the unit and whether he has the licence for using explosives,” said the SDPO.

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Vibhuti admitted that the stone unit was being run illegally, but said the mining department did not have any say on use of explosives.

“The director-general of mines safety (DGMS) issues licence for using explosives at mines. Pakur falls under the jurisdiction of DGMS’ Sitarampur-based office near Asansol (Bengal). But, they never consult the district mining office or the administration while giving permission for explosive use,” he claimed.

According to sources, there are altogether 459 stone crushing units across Pakur, which is famous for fine quality of stone chips, and most of these units are functioning illegally.

This apart, majority of these units use explosives without proper permission and expertise, putting lives of mine workers in danger.

Local villagers said such incidents took place intermittently here but most of them remained unreported due to a nexus between mine owners and the administer.