Mining mishap triggers protests in Odisha

Bhubaneswar, Aug 12 : The deadly mishap at a coal mine in Odisha two days ago in which 10 people were killed has triggered protests with locals Monday staging sit-in demonstrations in the area demanding more compensation for the kin of the deceased, a protest leader said.

Hundreds of people, including women and children and leaders of opposition parties staged separate demonstrations at Balinga, a village near state-run Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) mining site.

"The incident occurred due to the sheer negligence of the company and government officials," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president Jual Oram, who led one of the protests, told IANS.

"The overburden heap which collapsed was over 70 metres high against the prescribed height of 10 metres. Criminal action should be taken against the company officials for not following the prescribed guidelines," Oram said. Overburden is the material above a coal reserve and is removed before mining and dumped.

Oram said the government and MCL should announce a compensation of Rs.50 Lakh each for the families of those killed and a job to one person from each of the families.

Congress legislator Jogesh Kumar Singh, who led a separate protest, said the company authorities should have alerted locals to stay away from the area.

State Congress leader Kishore Patel has demanded a probe into the incident by a sitting high court judge.

The accident occurred Saturday at the Basundhara mining area at Kulda in Sundergarh district, 450 km from Bhubaneswar, when about 15-20 villagers were allegedly collecting coal shells from an over burden dump, which collapsed on them.

While 10 people were killed, rescue operations were underway to recover others feared trapped under the debris.

"Since that waste contains low grade coal shells, people often sneak into the prohibited area of the mining zone to collect them from the dumps," an MCL official said.

The MCL and the state government have separately announced a compensation of Rs.3 lakh and Rs.2 lakh, respectively, for the families of each of those killed.

--IANS (Posted on 12-08-2013)

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