Adilabad/Hyderabad: Four coal mine workers of Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) were killed when a part of the roof of an underground mine in SCCL’s Srirampur 3 and 3A incline in Mancherial district collapsed on them Wednesday morning.
All the four deceased were tasked with making the section of the mine safe after blasting that extended the mine deeper into the ground.
The deceased were identified as 60-year-old Bera Laxmaiah, and 57-year-old V Krishna Reddy, both timbermen, while the other two, both aged 32, were Category I workers and were identified by SCCL as Gaddam Satyanarasimha Raju, and R. Chandrashekar.
The accident occurred around 10.30 am and till around 8 pm, rescue workers were able to pull out the body of only one worker, Chandrashekar.
“All four were completely crushed as around a 30 feet section of the roof collapsed on them. The collapsed material was nearly like a pyramid,” a source in ingareni Collieries Company Ltd told Deccan Chronicle.
The rescue teams were using heavy-duty airbags to lift the large stones and other debris that collapsed and create passageways in an attempt to reach the other three bodies, while trying to prevent further collapses at the same time.
The recently blasted length in the coal mine where the accident occurred would be typically unstable and requires strengthening and installation of pillars and strong wire meshing to prevent collapse of material from the roof.
According to sources in SCCL, whenever a new stretch of an underground mine is opened through blasting, mining engineers are supposed to inspect the new stretch, give an all clear before any other work can be done in such a section. In this case, it is believed that this procedure was followed.
Strengthening of such new sections is typically considered a routine affair in Singareni coal mines, and in most such instances, it is the timbermen and Category I workers who are sent to ensure safety of such stretches of the mines, the sources said.
“This accident is a clear result of total neglect of safety measures by SCCL management, which has been solely focused on production which is given top priority over everything else,” Kengarla Mallaiah, former president of the Telangana Boggu Ganula Karmika Samakhya told Deccan Chronicle. “Ten coal miners have been killed so far just this year in Singareni mines,” he added.
Incidentally, back in 2019, an Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Environment, pulled up SCCL for excess mining at its various coal mines. This excess mining, the EAC, had said, also was taking place in the underground coal mine that was the scene of Wednesday’s accident.
However, subsequently, the SCCL management received approval for increased production from the mine after holding a public hearing as was required under the law.
Wednesday’s accident site was some 3 kilometres into the ground and nearly a kilometre down from the surface.
Trade union leaders held the SCCL management responsible for the deaths of the four coal mine workers and demanded that a case of murder be booked against the officials who allowed the accident to take place.
Vasi Reddy Seetharamaiah of AITUC alleged that the incident of roof collapse took place due to negligence of the officials compromising on safety measures.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the SCCL chairman and managing director N Sridhar expressed shock over the accident and expressed deep condolences to the bereaved families and ordered an inquiry into the incident. He said stern action would be taken if officials were found guilty in the incident and added that SCCL will ensure that such accidents do not recur.
Sridhar said SCCL will extend all possible help to the bereaved families and a job will be given in a place of choice in the SCCL operations to one member from each of the bereaved families. Each bereaved family will receive service benefits, including matching grants, gratuity that could range from Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1 crore, he said.
Several Telangana ministers, MLAs, and TRS MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha, who is the honorary president of TBGKS, expressed shock and grief at the accident, and assured of all possible help and support to the bereaved families.
Some recent accidents in Singareni coal mines
Nov 11, 2021 – 4 killed in roof collapse Srirampur underground mines – Mancherial district
Aug. 18, 2021 – 3 killed, travelling in a Bolero when coal dumper truck rammed it – Manuguru – Bhadradri-Kothagudem district
April 4, 2021 – 2 killed in roof collapse Kakatiya Khani underground mines – JS Bhupalapally district
Sept. 2, 2020 – 1 killed, 4 injured in underground blast Srirampur underground mines – Mancherial district
Jan. 24, 2020 – 1 killed, driver of conveyance van in an accident with dumper, Ramakrishnapur mines – Mancherial district
Dec. 16, 2019 – 1 killed when 14 tubs attached to a haulage rope in underground mines derailed, Ravindra Khani, Mancherial district...