Mining in Talcher to resume only after clearance from 5-layer safety mechanism

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Sambalpur: Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) today alerted its safety set up to plan for quick and structural inspection of safety conditions of mines in view of prolonged obstruction during this monsoon leading to waterlogging and stranding of heavy earthmovers, as villagers’ illegal stoppage of country’s largest Talcher Coalfields entered the eleventh day today.

MCL, which has in place a five-layered safety mechanism to ensure incident-free mining operations, would allow movement of men and machinery to resume operations only after clearance from the statutory authorities of respective mining units after complete safety check of mine faces vis-a-vis OB dumps, electrification network, excavation equipment and haul roads.

It has been observed that the illegal stoppage has made vulnerable the mining conditions at Talcher coalfields as the daily safety assessments by mines authorities have not been allowed by some locals, following an accident due to strata failure in a mine under Bharatpur area on July 23, 2019.

While company is exploring all possibilities to resume mining operations at the earliest, the forceful stoppage of safety teams to inspect mines, transport roads and roadworthiness of vehicles in Talcher coalfields makes mines further vulnerable to coal catching internal combustion, waterlogging and dumps slides, electricity breakdowns besides fuel-filled mining machines getting damaged due to no periodic maintenance being undertaken by the technicians.

It may take time for the Mines Safety and Operations teams to make fully operational the mines lying idle for the last over 10 days.

Even the four trade unions have expressed fears of mines safety and handed over their memorandum to the Collector, Angul, on August 1, urging him to intervene in the matter and restore normalcy.

Meanwhile, in addition to an inquiry being conducted by the Director General Mines Safety (DGMS) and Internal Safety Organisation (ISO), MCL has appointed Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad, — an institution of national repute under CSIR, Govt of India – to submit their report.

Since 24th July, MCL has suffered a production loss of 18.94 lakh tonne coal valuing Rs 170.96 crore, 21.76 lakh tonne of coal despatch to consumers, 18.52 lakh Cubic Meter of Over Burden whereas exchequer loss to the State and the Centre is estimated at Rs 124.46 crore.

Consequently, it is estimated that 3005.77 Million Units of power generation has been suffered by the power generators due to zero supply of fuel from Talcher coalfields.

The company has offered ex-gratia of Rs five lakh along with full compensation as per Employees Compensation (Amendment) Act 2017, having the compensation payment ranging from Rs four lakh to Rs nine lakh on the basis of age factor, Gratuity & Provident Fund as due, besides a job in contractual works (with high powered wages, which comes to monthly salary of Rs 20,000 to Rs 22,000) to a member of deceased worker’s family.

However, after a political outfit, which had resorted to mine stoppage following Bharatpur accident, announced calling off their strike, some villagers of Talcher with unjust demands of Rs three crore as compensation and a permanent job in MCL to the deceased workers of a contractor firm resorted to illegal obstruction in mining operations on July 31, pushing industries to face coal crisis.

Besides heavy earth moving equipment deployed in mines and over 13,000 employees of the company, around 10,000 contractors’ workers forced to sit idle while coal mines-dependent over 20,000 Transporters’, allied service providers, small and medium businessmen and their families are suffering financial losses.

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