SHOMA PATNAIK | NT
PANAJI: Director of mines and geology, Prasanna Acharya, who recently imposed stiff penalties on mining companies for mishaps caused by mining trucks, has said that he expects the punishment to bear fruit in reducing road accidents in Goa’s mining belt during 2017-18.
The stiff penalty that includes monetary fine as well as penalty of production loss is expected to act as a deterrent action on leaseholders, according to Acharya.
“The fine collected from companies would be paid expeditiously to the victim or the victim’s family to provide immediate ex-gratia relief,” he said.
Acharya said that the preventive measures to cut down the road accidents have also been beefed up. These include online monitoring of truck movement, hourly quota to truckers on the quantity they can transport and strict adherence to the maximum speed limit of 40 km per hour. Further, companies have been instructed to train their drivers on safe driving. The measures are aimed at reducing congestion on the roads, lowering dust and pollution created by ore-carrying trucks and mitigating the problem of road accidents. “They have to be obeyed by leaseholders and are with immediate effect,” said the director on Thursday while speaking to this daily.
On April 5, Acharya held a meeting with eight major miners wherein they were instructed on zero tolerance to accidents that occur due to mining transportation, and other issues such as equitable distribution of production, incentives and disincentives of reporting irregularities by leaseholders.
The penalty for accidents caused by mining trucks includes reduction in quota by one lakh tonne, immediate deposit of Rs 10 lakh by the company in case of accidental death and Rs five lakh in case of accidental injury.
Mining companies are balking at the penalty of one lakh tonne reduction in quota although they are alright with the monetary fine. “Reduction of quota is a punitive action, as it means a loss of at least two shipments,” said a leaseholder.
The mining department plans to pass on the curtailed quota of the leaseholder held responsible for an accident to another leaseholder and thus ensure no loss in revenue to the state coffers.
Road accidents caused by speeding mining trucks have re-emerged since the industry reopened for operations in October 2015. In 2016, two women died and a little girl was injured after their scooter was hit by an empty truck at Tilamol in Quepem. In May 2016, a student was crushed to death by a truck in Usgaon, Ganjem.
The current year has seen no respite in accidents. A young boy was fatally hit by a truck in Usgaon-Tisk in January, while in another accident that occurred in February, a scooter rider died in Curchorem. Actions taken with regard to these accidents include suspension of driver and debarring driver from driving.
Forthcoming action will be punitive and, therefore, effective, according to the mining department.