NHRC seeks report on Odisha coal mine mishap

    By IANS,

    Bhubaneswar : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Odisha government to submit a report within four weeks on the Aug 10 coal mine mishap that claimed 11 lives in the state, a petitioner said Tuesday.

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    The commission asked state Chief Secretary J.K. Mohapatra to submit a detailed report, rights activist Prabir Das told IANS.

    Das filed a complaint before the commission, alleging that the incident was manmade and happened due to sheer negligence of the state-run Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. (MCL) that operates the mine.

    “They kept the overburden heap at unusual height. They did not barricade the risky area. They were aware that people often sneak into the area to collect coal but did not take any preventive measures,” he said.

    The accident occurred Aug 10 at the Basundhara mining area at Kulda in Sundergarh district, 450 km from Bhubaneswar, when some villagers were reportedly collecting coal shells from an overburden dump that collapsed on them.

    Although 11 people were killed, two people – a man and a woman – are still feared trapped under the debris.

    Overburden is the material above the coal reserve, which is removed before mining and dumped elsewhere. Since that waste also contains low grade coal shells, people often sneak into the prohibited mining zone area to collect these from the dumps.