Mining regulator concern over silicosis

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 08, 2017

PK Sarkar, Director-General of the Directorate General Mine Safety

The disease is an occupational hazard affecting miners

Prevalence of silicosis, a especially in the stone mines, is a “concern”, said PK Sarkar, Director-General of the Directorate General Mine Safety (DGMS), a key regulatory body for mining in India, on Wednesday.

He was in the city to attend the 7th Asian Mining Congress.

Mandated by the Supreme Court, the regulator is conducting a study in mining regions of the country. So far 9,000 samples in five or six States are rested including the BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Gujarat.

Sarkar refused to categorise the precedence of silicosis (as high or very high) in these States. But he said that a substantial number of people are affected by the disease. According to media reports, the DGMS told the apex court that 323 people died of silicosis in Rajasthan alone.

According to Wikipedia, Silicosis, previously referred as miner’s asthma, is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, and is marked by inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs.

Regulatory reforms

Earlier addressing the mining congress, Sarkar highlighted the significant reduction in the fatality rate There were eight mining disasters in last 15 years killing 168 people, he said.

According to the DGMS, 77 per cent of the mine accidents take place either due to collapse of the benches or dump.

Calling for a shift in the regulatory environment from the current enforcement based regime to more self-regulatory framework; he reminded that in Australia mining contracts are not merely awarded to the least cost operator but to the company with the best safety records.

“We need a framework where in the regulator would make least interventions but the company CEO would be responsible for failures to take due safety precautions and resulting fatalities,” he said.

The regulator expressed concern over the rising share of contractual workers in Indian mines. According to him, currently there are 2.5 contractual workers against every permanent staff with 70 per cent of production coming through the contractual route.

“We need a cultural shift where both the regulator and the miners would put their minds in making mining safer,” he said pointing out that policing day-to-day affairs would be tough as the mining industry gets bigger.

Published on November 08, 2017
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