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Safety crisis in Indian mines call for ratification of ILO C-176

5 June, 2020268 workers were killed and 748 workers suffered serious injuries in India’s mines between 2016 to 2019. A series of accidents in May suggest that 11 coal miners were killed and many more injured.

Four contract workers were killed and five seriously injured on 2 June at the Godavarikhani open cast mine of Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) in Telangana. The accidents occurred as workers were engaged in blasting operations. According to union sources, six workers have been killed at SCCL during the Covid-19 lockdown.

A vehicle operator was killed at Rajapur open cast mine of Bharat Coking Coal Limited on 29 May.

On 27 May, there was an accident at Dudhichua project of Northern Coalfields Limited as a machine fell on a dumper. According to the union, a similar accident occurred a few days before, violating safety norms.

One worker was killed and two others injured on 25 May at the Parascole mine of Kajora Area in Eastern Coalfields Limited due to a roof fall.

On 22 May, a contract worker died while four others escaped unhurt in an accident while cleaning a clogged chimney at a coal mine owned by Steel Authority of India Limited in Chasnala. An internal enquiry has been launched and three managers have been suspended pending the enquiry.

One worker was smashed by a dumper on 19 May in the Nandgaon project of Western Coalfields Limited.

A worker at the Ananata open cast project of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited was killed on 3 May while filling diesel into heavy earth moving machinery.

Nathulal Pandey, president of Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation and S Q Zama, secretary general of Indian National Mineworkers Federation, say:

“A shortage of manpower, high production targets, unplanned extraction of coal, outsourcing coal production to third parties, engagement of a large number of untrained contract workers in critical areas, not fully using safety budgets for the past three years, a shortage of safety equipment for all workers and negligence of safety measures continue to cause avoidable accidents and a loss of workers’ lives in the mines of CIL and in SCCL.

“The government’s attempts to allow commercial mining and privatisation of CIL may actually worsen the safety situation.”

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary, says:

“These fatal accidents underline the safety crisis in Indian mines and the government can no longer ignore it. Before losing more lives, we reiterate that it is urgent that India take steps to ratify ILO Convention C176 on safety and health in mines.

“National laws should be in line with C176, and unions should be involved in decision making processes to create a robust safety culture in Indian mines.”