Giridih: Excavating coal from abandoned mines, is not a new thing for the residents of Giridih. About a dozen villages in and around Central Coalfield Limited (CCL), Giridih have men and women climbing down these mines or pits to excavate coal, illegally, to earn a living.
However, things took a nasty turn for six miners who had climbed down an abandoned mine of CCL with the mine caving in during the wee hours of Saturday morning. Ironically, CCL officials denied of any such accident taking place in the mines owned by them, functional or abandoned.
“No such incident has taken place in any of the mines that belongs to CCL, Giridih area,” declared the Project Officer AK Roy.
Out of six, five miners were from Simariadhoda village. At the time of the incident, 200 people were mining at the site, which is located at Baniyadih area of Giridih. In most cases, the dead bodies could not get recovered from the debris, however, this time, families been able to collect it and took their homes.
As the news reached the district administration, officials led by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Namita Kumari and Sub-Divisional Police Office Manish Toppo, reached Simariyadhoda, where the dead bodies, were about to be buried. They then seized the bodies and sent for autopsy.
“All the miners were illegally excavating coals from abandoned CCL mines. Such miners, often bribe CCL staffs to enter the abandoned mines. In doing so, they risk their lives. The miners generally go inside post midnight,” said Srikant Ujjain, a journalist, who extensively covers colliery related news.
He adds, “The fact that CCL lack substantial security officials, add on to their advantage. As of now they have only 30 such officials to take care of the large area that belongs to the colliery. Also, there exist a serious unemployment issue, which plagues at least seven villages of Giridih. Hence, they often end up excavating coals from pits or CCL’s abandoned mines.”
As per the guidelines, any such mining area, I this case, CCL, should fill the abandoned mines with sand and rock, so later on nobody can go inside.
Of the six victims, two were as young as 23 and 24 years of age. The body of the miner, who had come over from another village, could not be recovered by police.
Enewsroom, on February 25, had done a detailed report on how teenagers as young as 13 years of age, go inside the pits to earn around 400 bucks everyday after toiling for eight hours.
One of the oldest coalmines of united Bihar, CCL, Giridih had become operational around 1857 itself by private owners. But the large population living around the colliery, are still poor, and there is no alternative source of income other than excavating coal for a living. In recent years, coal mafias exploited the situation well, and they buy coals from such miners on large scale.
Sources maintained that, there is a village called Bela in Bengabad block of Giridih district, where the illegal miners sell their coals, to coal mafias, who have it transported to Bihar.
The administration also formed a team to submit a report about the incident, based on which, a First Information Report (FIR) will be initiated.
Towards the evening, the officials conducted a meeting, which concluded around 9pm. During the meet, it was decided to initiate an FIR against the CCL management.
“We have decided to lodge an FIR against CCL management, including their top officials,” said the SDPO Toppo to eNewsroom.
When inquired, which means Project officer (PO) also? To which he replied, “Yes.”
Earlier in 2015, when three people had died in a similar incident, then also district administration had lodged FIR against CCL officials.
The five dead bodies recovered were identified as — Mohammed Zahid (23), Mohammad Enamul (23), Mohammad Chotu (24), Mohammad Qurban (55) and Mohammad Sameed (50).