Priority for labour safety in mines

He was speaking to reporters after the inauguration of the Southern Zonal Office of the Director General of Mines Safety (SZODGM) on Monday. Kharge said the ministry was bringing in 32 amendments to the Mines Safety Act formulated in 1952.

“Stringent steps will be taken for the safety of mine workers. The Act came into existence in 1901 and has been replaced twice in 1923 and 1952. We have decided to bring in a new Act now,” he said.

He said the steps include increasing the penalty for violating safety norms from Rs 1,000 to Rs one lakh. In cases where a penalty of Rs 5,000 was being imposed, the amount will be increased to Rs five lakh, Kharge said.

“Similarly, the punishment will be increased from one year imprisonment to five years. In cases in which the guilty are sentenced to three years imprisonment, it will go up to seven years,” he added.

Kharge requested Union Minister of State for Mines Dhinsha J Patel, who was present on the occasion, to instruct the officials in his department to direct mining lease holders to accord top priority to the safety of mine workers.

The SZODGM in Bangalore will also cater to parts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Kharge said.
Reacting to the State government blaming the Centre for illegal mining, Patel asserted that monitoring and preventing illegal mining was the responsibility of the State.

“The Central government just lays down the guidelines. It is for the State to enforce them stringently,” he said.

“We are considering the option of providing land to those whose land was taken over for mining leases,” he said.

He said one person each from the families losing property for mining leases would be given a government job.

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