Thursday May 24, 2018

Thanks to the poor safety standards of India, Death tolls are rising in the mining sector

Coal Mines Act in 1973 was enacted due to this very reason only. Private sector mines were banned due to their poor safety records and now public sector mines are also becoming dangerous.

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Mining tools exhibition, Wikimedia commons
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  • India is a producer of 89 minerals and operates 569 coal mines, 67 oil gas mines and 1,770 noncoal mines
  • Between 2009 and 2013, 752 accidents were reported and Coal Mines Act in 1973 was enacted
  • Australia, the US and China  has implemented standard operating procedures (SoPs) to counter accidents

Though major safety standards have been introduced in the Indian mining sector but still a lot needs to be taken care of. Every 10th day some sort of mining fatality is happening in our country. Digging deeper into the case, more specifically every 3rd day on an average some accidents take place in the coal mining sector. All these repercussions lead to the fact that mining is considered to be the most dangerous profession in India.

Officials claim that the numbers are declining. On paper, it may seem comforting that for extracting 100 million tonnes of coal, 7 lives were lost on an average in 2015. The majority of the mishaps that takes place are due to strata fall (roof falls or collapse of side walls). Our economy demands more and more output from the mining sector. This directly builds pressure for re-evaluating the safety standards of those toiling deep in the bowels of the earth.

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Same is the case with other developing countries such as China, Brazil. Death tolls are rising at a significant scale. Senior officials employed by world’s largest coal mine sector, coal India Ltd, concede that “Official numbers could be much lower than the actual deaths that take place deep inside the mines.”

Safety standards should be implemented in mining sectors, Wikimedia commons
Standard safety standards should be implemented in mining sectors, Wikimedia commons

India is a producer of 89 minerals by operating 569 coal mines, 67 oil gas mines and 1,770 noncoal mines and several other small mines. This forms a source of employment to about 1 million people on a daily average basis. This also contributes to about 5 % of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product). But the fact that failures occur in the mining industry is an indication of our poor safety standards. We need to learn from countries like Australia, the US and China where standard operating procedures (SoPs) have been implemented.

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According to Official of Directorate General of Mines Safety (Ministry of Labour and Employment), In India 752 accidents have been reported between 2009 and 2013 due to the fatalities in the mining operations. Coal Mines Act in 1973 was enacted due to this very reason only. Private sector mines were banned due to their poor safety records and now public sector mines are also becoming dangerous.

Though the problems of Indian mine worker cause accidents, miners are also exposed to a number of hazards that adversely affects their health. The problem of inadequate compensation is another factor that as documented in the report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on safety in coal mines.

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-by Pritam

Pritam is an engineering student and an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle Pritam_gogreen

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)