Late in the night of September 26,
water from the Katri nullah (canal),
flowing past the Jharia coal fields,
Dhanbad, breached an embankment
I entered 2 mines, after it had inun a nearby abandoned open cast.
Around 64 miners met with a
tragic end. This was the worst accident
since Chasnala mine disaster, in the
same district, 2 decades ago, when 150
manners died in a similar manner.
As is the case with most accidents in
The country, this mishap too should
never have occurred in the first place.
rains (approximately 305 mm)
reported to have lashed
the previous day. But
decision of the Bharat Coking
Ltd (BCCL), whose miners
killed, to withdraw the
10,000 odd miners from the
in the area, came only after
tragedy had struck. It was much too late for the miners and their families.
Rescue engineers at the site
Not attempted to check the flow
Of water the mines bydumping truckloads of rocks, where the nullah had breached its embankment, and
by pumping out water. Even 48 hours
after the catastrophe, they had reached a
depth of only 60.96 metres (m), while
the miners were working at a depth of
more than 152.4 m.
As far back in 1978, a recommendation by the Directorate General of
Mines Safety had stated that these 2
mines were to be closed if the water level
rose above a certain level. With the
water level 0.914 in above the danger
mark, this directive was summarily
ignored. The gory story, however, does
not end here. The lifts to the mines were
not functioning as the power lines to the
colfiery had snapped. They were being
operated by steam. This alternate system too had packed up and the distress
signals of the trapped miners could not
be heeded to.
In his report on the tragedy, the
deputy commissioner of Dhanbad,
Mahavir Prasad, squarely blamed BCCL,
stating that the embankment was in a
state of disrepair and neglect, and that
the disaster could have been averted if
the management had taken timely miasores. He added that security along the
embankment had been terminated by
BCCL, thereby leaving no possibility of an
With the resurgence of the privatisa
tion in the mining industry, the
te need for government agencies
such as the Directorate General
of Mines safety cry, to get their acts
71 together is ore than imperative.
Going by he past records of
mining companies, they seem to
be, insentive to miners' safety.
And the feeling in the miners
community is that since the compensation they have to shell out is
insignificant, the companies tend
to ignore all safety procedures.