PANAJI : With the renewal of mining leases having been nullified by the Supreme Court and leaseholders ceasing to be in-charge of the safety at mines, the state government has been forced to step in and take up mines safety seriously.
On Tuesday the North Goa district collector, who is also chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority, through an order directed the chief engineer of the water resource department to put in place a team of technical officers who will be fully responsible for carrying out surveillance on the water level in the mining pits.
The technical team will also be responsible for reporting possible threat of disaster, such as breakage of mines and flooding of villages, etc in time, the collector has stated in the order.
The order stipulates that the technical team, which should be formed on or before May 28, will have to work till the end of monsoon so as to avoid any untoward disaster during the rainy season.
Pointing towards the urgency in mining safety, the order says that there is an urgent requirement to keep a close watch and monitor the water levels in the mining pits or quarries so as to prevent any potential damage to the life and property due to mine-breakage etc, and possible flooding of the neighboring villages. Earlier, at a meeting held on March 21, the government had indicated that the respective defunct leaseholders would have to continue with safety measures under the guidance of the director general of mines safety.
However, the High Court of Bombay at Goa, in its order on May 5 directed the state Chief Secretary to hold a meeting with all officers within 15 days to chalk out a comprehensive plan for the safety of mines that have been closed.
Terming the mine safety situation serious, the HC had observed: “The state government has simply thrown up its hand stating that it does not have the machinery, equipment or personnel to take care of the mines. We do not have satisfactory answer from the state as to how it is going to enforce the directions given to the mining leaseholders if they failed to take the measures as directed.”
The court in its order had further stated: “We do feel that the present arrangement of directing the mining leaseholders to carry out safety measure during monsoon is fraught with various perils.”
On May 12 a meeting was called by the Chief Secretary and the secretary of mines to discuss the issue of the safety of closed mines with various departments.