People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 28

July 15, 2012

Prompt Action Against Mine Fire Sought


IN a letter written to Shri Prakash Jaiswal, minister of coal in the government of India on July 4, CITU general secretary and Rajya Sabha member, Tapan Sen, sought the ministerís urgent intervention in the matter of blazing fire in a big area under the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) in Raniganj, West Bengal. Here the ECL authorities had allowed indiscriminate open cast mining which led to the death of a security guard in Belbaid Patch OCP under Kunustoria area on June 27, 2012.


The tragedy occurred when a team of officials were on the particular spot for a visit and one security guard, Subhas Gore, fell in the blazing fire owing to the sudden collapse of land. There could have been fatalities, but others somehow escaped.


The entire area is under blazing fire and the inhabitants in the nearest villages are affected by the noxious gas constantly emitting owing to continuing fire underground in the OCP areas. Moreover, the way the sudden subsidence took place, with the security guard getting swept down in the fire, indicates the volcanic kind of situation being created in various spots in the coalfield area. The letter said this is owing to indiscriminate open cast mining being carried on by private contractors and facilitated by the process of rampant outsourcing by the ECL, without caring for preventive measures against subsidence, gas emission and creation of fire. The letter said it is utterly shocking that the ECL management is selling and supplying the top soil of the OCPs to brick kiln owners since the starting of the OCP, thereby making soil or mitti unavailable for blanketing and controlling fire.


The letter expressed the hope that the minister would definitely appreciate the gravity of the issue of safety and security not only of the workers but also of the inhabitants in the coalmining area which is getting threatened everyday in the entire area. Then there is, besides, the no less important issue of preservation and prevention of wastage and burning out of precious high quality coal arising out of faulty, ad hoc and erratic mining operation through large scale outsourcing through OCP in the ECL.


The CITU leader has demanded that a thorough enquiry must be conducted and responsibility fixed for the incident of subsidence and fire on June 27, 2012, in Kunustoria area of the ECL. This must cover the OCP operation, allowing brick kilns in the concerned area to lift the soil etc, in its entirety. Simultaneously, the entire matter of outsourcing for indiscriminate OCP operation, totally unmindful of the consequences, lack of concern and care about the safety of the workers and the people, and also the issue of preservation and prevention of ruinous wastage of resources should be looked afresh and stopped forthwith in the ECL. The letter said this is an urgent necessity for the safety and security of the workers and people as well as for preservation of high quality precious resource which is being put at stake by the concerned authorities for short term ad hoc gain. 


The CITU leader has also sent copies of this letter to the director general of mines safety in Dhanbad and to the district magistrate of Burdwan under the government of West Bengal for information and necessary action.