After forest, environment, land acquisition, and many other hurdles, the country’s mining industry is now faced with another set of restrictions.

According to sources, in guidelines issued recently, the Union Home Ministry has restricted movement of explosives to mines, unless and until escorted by armed police force.

Mining industry is the single largest consumer of explosives, used in either removing the earth (over burden material) for exposing minerals as well as extraction of minerals.

Coal India alone consumes nearly 5,00,000 tonnes of explosives a year – enough to reduce a few mega-cities into rubble.

The guidelines were issued to prevent any possible diversion of explosives to extremist forces, operating in the mineral rich regions of the country, during transportation.

However, the development came as a shocker to the mining industry which was already plagued with a series of issues.

While suppliers denied to despatch explosive consignments without police escorts, slow response on the part of the State governments in ensuring security has threatened to bring production to a grinding halt.

Sensing trouble, CIL appealed to the Union Home Ministry for relaxing the norms for a month, till all stakeholders including the State governments are duly sensitised and the system is put in place. Apart from over-burden removal and underground production, CIL uses explosives for extraction of nearly half of its opencast coal production.

Sources suggest that responding to the plea from miners, the Ministry agreed to relax the guidelines for a month till State governments put the desired system in place.

“Hopefully, we will not face any shortage of explosives for now,” said a coal miner.

(This article was published on May 9, 2013)
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