MAC: Mines and Communities

Plight of Pakistani coal miners

Published by MAC on 2019-05-17
Source: Peoples Dispatch (2019-05-17)

Coal miners continue to lose lives in Pakistan

The miserable conditions in mines have led to the death of more than 120
workers in recent months.

Peoples Dispatch

16 May 2019

Coal miners in Pakistan continue to lose their lives after getting trapped
in landslides, with two more deaths reported on May 9. Identified as
Khaliq Dad and Dad Mohammad, the miners were digging deep inside the mine
when a portion of it caved in. Earlier on April 10, more coal miners had
lost their lives in similar accidents.

The bodies of the miners were later fished out by the rescue team.
Pakistan Central Mines Labor Federation (PCMLF) condemned the incident. In
a statement, the union asked the authorities to take swift measures to end
the rampant exploitation of coal workers and to facilitate in the
provision of justice and compensation for the families of those killed in
mines.

Recently, the PCMLF had organized a protest rally in Quetta, the
provincial capital of Balochistan, to press their demand of implementing
proper safety measures for coal miners.

On April 10, Abdul Qayyum, Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad Irfan and Kashmir Khan
died after an explosion was triggered by the accumulation of poisonous
gases in a mine in the Sorange district of Balochistan province, some 625
kilometers from Quetta city.

In another incident on the same day, four miners died in an explosion in
the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The incident took place in the
town of Darra Adam Khel. A portion of the mine had caved in, trapping the
laborers. A rescue team recovered the bodies of the workers, and saved two
others who were inured.

The miserable conditions in mines have led to the death of more than 120
workers in recent months.

According to PCMLF estimates, mine-related accidents kill between 100 to
200 laborers every year in the country.

In January, four miners were killed in a mine blast in the Loralai
district of Balochistan. Before that, in December 2018, a blast in the
Sharigh mine area in Khost town of Balochistan killed one laborer. Nearly
20 more coal mine workers, along with two rescue team members, died in the
Sanjadi area of Quetta in August 2018.

Another four workers died in an explosion in Sanjadi in June 2018. And as
many as 23 laborers, most of whom were from a single family, died in two
separate incidents in Quetta's Pir Ismail and Marwah areas.

Coal mining is considered to be more hazardous than hard rock mining
because of the nature of the rock strata, leakage or explosion of
poisonous gases and coal dust, collapsing of mine stopes, as well as
mechanical errors from improper use and malfunctioning of mining
equipment. The hazardous conditions are made worse by the neglect of
workers' safety by the mining companies and the state authorities.

According to PCMLF estimates, the coal mining sector employs more than
100,000 workers in its 400 coal mines. Miners usually begin work at the
age of 13.

By the age of 30, they are forced into unemployment due to chronic
respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, loss of eyesight, injuries, etc. They
are often forced to work for over 10 hours a day without adequate safety
gear, which is in violation of Pakistan’s labor laws.

In the absence of well-equipped emergency response teams, other workers
are usually the first respondents.

In most cases, this leads to further casualties. Many workers âre "retire"
under such circumstances, often without pension or unemployment benefits.

 

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