Inside India’s mines: Between Jan and June 2016, a death every third day – by Anil Sasi (Indian Express – November 9, 2016)

New Delhi – * Just after the dawn on May 28, a mining accident at the Turamdih Uranium Mine near Jamshedpur, run by the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), killed three miners. 24-year-old Sonaram Kisku, a tribal contract worker, 42-year-old safety officer Surya Kant Singh and Milan Karmakar, 35, a general foreman died after they accidentally got buried under the wet radioactive slurry that they were reportedly clearing at a depth of over 250 metre in the Turamdih mine, 6 km from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

* Three workers of Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) — T Hanmantha Rao and G Posham, both were timbermen, and D Kistaiah, a mason — were crushed to death when a portion of the roof of a structure inside the coal mine collapsed on them when they came in to drink water around mid-day on April 14. Of the four workers at the Shanthikhani main site near Mandamarri, one escaped with minor injuries.

Including the six lives that were lost in the two recent accidents, there were a total of 65 deaths during the first six months of this year in a series of accidents at the country’s coal and non-coal mines — translating into a fatality every three days.

For a sector, where the safety record is far from inspiring, there were a total of 122 persons documented as having met with a serious accident of some sort in India’s mines during the six month period, translating into a serious accident every one-and-a-half days.

Of this, there was a fatal accident every four days, making it arguably the most dangerous profession in India. The latest trend shows that the situation could be headed for its worst in numbers this year.

There are other two grim issues. One being that the compensation for disability or death — ranging between Rs 5.4 lakh and Rs 8.5 lakh per person last year — is under process for long. The other being that a number of those who perish are contract workers, who, or their immediate families, have practically no safety net apart from this payout.

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