Safety check launched at MCL mines; production continue to be hit

Bhubaneswar: After production and supply were affected in the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) for the 11th day in a row, the authorities on Saturday launched steps to inspect safety conditions, a company spokesperson said.

The operation in the MCL was hit owing to an agitation by locals backed by political parties after four workers died in an accident at a mine on July 23.

The agitation has led to water-logging and stranding of equipment in the MCL, a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd.

The company alerted its safety set up to go for quick structural inspection of the safety conditions of mines, an MCL spokesperson said.

The MCL 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, he said.

All sections of the mines including over burden dumps, electrification network and excavation equipment will be thoroughly checked.

The spokesperson said the agitation has made the mining conditions at Talcher coalfields vulnerable as the daily safety assessments have not been allowed by the locals after the mishap.

Four workers were killed and nine others injured in the accident at Bharatpur mine, triggering protests by political parties and locals.

The BJP had first launched an agitation demanding a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for families of each deceased. The party withdrew its strike after talks with the authorities on Wednesday, villagers backed by BJD leaders initiated stoppage of work, stalling operations at all the mines in Talcher Coalfields in Angul district.

While the MCL is exploring possibilities to resume mining operations at the earliest, blocking of movement of the safety teams in Talcher coalfields makes the mines vulnerable to internal combustion, water logging, dumps slides, power breakdowns besides damage of machines, the spokesperson said.

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

Four trade unions have expressed fears of mines safety and handed over their memoranda to the collector of Angul district on August 1, urging him to intervene in the matter and restore normalcy.

Meanwhile, the MCL has appointed Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad, has been appointed to investigate the July 23 accident, the spokesperson said.

This inquiry will be done in addition to those being conducted by the Director General Mines Safety (DGMS) and the Internal Safety Organisation (ISO).

Since July 24, the MCL has suffered a production loss of 18.94 lakh tonne coal valued at Rs 170.96 crore, the spokesperson said.

It is estimated that 3005.77 million units of power generation has been suffered by power plants due to zero supply of fuel from Talcher coalfields.