18 Inspectors for 2700 mines in Balochistan

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18 Inspectors for 2700 mines in Balochistan

Quetta Voice Investigative Report 

In Balochistan, there are 18 mines inspectors for 2,700 coal mines located in various parts of the province. Under the 1923 mines act, it is the mines inspector’s responsibility to check every mine before the start of work. Since 2010, coal mines incidents have claimed more than 600 precious human lives, data of Mines and Mineral Department Balochistan reveals.

“Mines inspectors are trying hard to ensure visits of mines”, Syed Zafar Shah Bukhari, the Secretary of Mines Balochistan said. The Balochistan government has given almost 350 locations on lease to different people.

As per the mines act, children, aged people, and women are not allowed to enter the coal mine. However, Mr. Bukhari said most of the coal miners are also not adopting safety measures. “Some miners carry cigarettes and matches inside mines that cause explosions”, he said.

HRGs, labour unions lash out at government and owners 

This revelation has come after repeated incidents of coal mines in Balochistan’s Harnai district. Human rights groups (HRGs) and labour unions have always blamed the government, owners, and contractors for hazardous working conditions causing human losses. “These are death holes, not mines”, Sultan Muhammad Khan, the central leader of mines association lamented.

Rescue workers and miners trying to retrieve the dead bodies of trapped miners in Balochistan’s Harnai district: Photo provided by Hanif Tareen

Owners deny allegations

However, the owners denied allegations and demand basic facilities in coal mine areas. “We have provided all facilities, it is the government that has failed to do so”, Behroz Reki, the central leader of the mines owners association said. “Government should establish rescue center and provide ambulances in mines areas”, he demanded.

Most of the coal miners belong to Swat, Shangla, some parts of volatile Southern Afghanistan. “Over 35,000 coal miners are working inside coal mines of Balochistan”, Syed Zafar Shah Bukhari, Secretary Mines, and Minerals said.

Coal mines incidents are an order of the day 

“With no safety, I have been extracting coal from this mine”, Muhammad Nabi, a coal miner in Balochistan’s Dukki district told Quetta Voice via telephone. Most of the coal miners have no proper training. “No safety no proper salary”, Mr. Nabi said. “We are extracting coal at the cost of our lives”, he lamented.

321 mines closed over poor safety conditions

The Balochistan Mines and Mineral Department had closed 321 mines over poor safety conditions in Mach, Dukki, Harnai, Strange and Marwar. “Cases of 206 mines sent to courts”, the Secretary informed. So far, courts have decided 30 cases, he mentioned.

18 Inspectors for 2700 mines in Balochistan

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