The Lalmatia coal mine, where a cave-in in December last year claimed 18 lives, was not fit for mining activities, the Director General of Mines Safety told the Jharkhand High Court on Friday. A team of officials had inspected the mine three months before the accident. They had found that the mine safety measures were not adopted as per norms, the DGMS told the court in an affidavit.
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“The mine was running dangerously and basic safety norms were not taken care of,” an official of the DGMS told IANS.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the high court following the mine disaster. The DGMS filed the affidavit on the court’s direction.
The Eastern Coalfields Ltd mine suffered a cave-in at the open cast Rajmahal Project in Godda district on December 30, in which at least five people were still untraced.
The rescue operation was halted due to technical reasons. The ECL has also admitted that some people could still be trapped inside.
“It was like a landslide in an open-cast mine. Nearly 9 lakh cubic metres of earth caved in. It was the biggest mine accident in open-cast history,” a Godda district administration official told IANS.
However, the responsibility for the accident is yet to be fixed.
The compensation of Rs 12 lakh announced for the victims’ families have not yet been distributed yet.
Family members of the five workers whose bodies were yet to be recovered have also lost hope.
DGMS sources say there was criminal negligence on part of the ECL official and the outsourced company.
The Coal Ministry also termed the incident “unprecedented”.
An area of 300 metres length by 110 metres width solid floor of the overburden dump area slid down by about 35 metres involving around 9.5 million cubic metres of earth material.
“This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line,” it said.