The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Safety siren after mine blaze

Dhanbad, Sept. 9: Even as 50 miners paid the price of security lapses with their lives in an explosion at Bhatdih mine last Wednesday, BCCL chairman categorically said today it was not possible to guarantee cent per cent security in the mines in Jharkhand.

Confirming that the bodies of all the mine mishap victims had been recovered, Partho Bhattacharya, the chairman-cum-managing director of the coal company that runs the mine in West Jharia, said steps would be taken to ensure that safety measures were strictly followed in its mines.

Starting on a priority basis with the highly inflammable grade III mines, including Bhatdih, Munidih, Sudamdih and Amlabad, safety status of all the mines would be audited to see to it that safety precautions were being followed and to ascertain what other measures were necessary to avoid accidents, he said.

After handing over appointment letters to the kin of the 49 victims of the mishap, Bhattacharya said each of the families would be given a compensation package between Rs 9 lakh and Rs 14 lakh. Those who were injured in the accident would get Rs 3 lakh each, he added.

Significantly, none of the relatives of a victim turned up to receive the appointment letter from Bhattacharya.

A four-member inquiry committee, he said, had been set up to probe into the accident. The panel, which includes CMPDIL director (technical) N.C. Jha, BCCL director (personnel) Md Salimudddin, CIL director (technical) Laxman Jha and CMPDIL managing director Subrata Choudhary, will submit its inquiry report by September 22.

Revealing that the Bhatdih mine, where the explosion had taken place, used to churn out 100 tonnes of coal everyday with more than 50 persons working in each shift, Bhattacharya said most of the mines owned by the BCCL were around 60 years old. “These mines must be modernised and mechanised with stringent safety norms for the miners,” he said.

Bhattacharya also suggested that regular meetings on precautionary measures would help miners work at a safer place. “The unfortunate accident at Bhatdih was an eye-opener for us,” he added.

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