MARGAO: In what clearly highlights the insensitivity of the authorities towards mines safety issues, the government is yet to initiate any probe-police, magisterial or judicial-into the June 17 Cuddegal mine disaster that claimed the lives of three mine workers. Police have registered the deaths as "unnatural".
In the absence of investigations, South Goa district administration is uncertain whether to consider it a natural disaster and invoke provisions of the Disaster Management Act, or hold the mining company responsible for its acts of negligence, if any.   "It's for the government to decide whether to order a probe or otherwise. So far, I have not received any communication from the government. The disaster management cell has forwarded a proposal to me pertaining to the incident, which I will look into," South Goa collector Sandeep Jacques said on Tuesday.
Mines secretary S Kumarswamy when contacted declined to answer any queries regarding the incident. The mines department, which submitted its initial report into the incident to the government, has shrugged of its responsibility stating the incident occurred outside the mining lease area.
According to the report, heavy rains triggered the collapse of the mining dump and tailing point at the beneficiation plant. It also suggested that the government appoint a committee to inquire into the incident.
Sources have countered observation made by the mines department that the incident was a consequence of a natural calamity. They have called into question the safety standards adopted by the company in designing the tailing dumps at the mine.
"The incident cannot be termed as a natural calamity. It is a man-made one. Structural engineers advise that tailing dumps should be maintained at a certain height after taking into consideration the angle of repose and factor of safety. The height and the slope of a tailing dump are designed assuming worst case rainfall scenarios and further securing by applying a factor of safety," a source said.
What has further caused raised eyebrows is the failure of the police in registering a complaint against the mining company. Curchorem police have registered the loss of lives of the three mine workers as "unnatural deaths".
DySP Rohidas Patre when questioned dismissed the query saying, "There is no case of negligence made out against the mining company."
Patre's arguments do not seem to hold water, considering that in a similar incident at the Tollem mines of Timblo minerals in December 2006-a mining dump had collapsed killing six workers-Sanguem police had registered an offence against four officials of the mining company, including its managing director. They were charged under Section 304(A) (negligence) of the IPC. A magisterial inquiry was also ordered by the government.
Sources said the disaster management cell of the South Goa collectorate has proposed that a meeting of all concerned agencies-mines department, directorate of mines safety and Fomento-be convened by the district magistrate to ascertain the causes that led to the disaster. It has also been proposed that proper guidelines be framed with regard to the design of tailing dumps by mining companies to avert such incidents. Sources said they have also sought the views of the directorate of mines safety-the regulatory agency for safety in mines-over the incident.
Rainfall calculation critical when designing a dump  Stability of tailing dumps is affected by various factors which are broadly classified into hydrogeological and rain water condition in the dumping area, load bearing capacity of the location, and geometry and strength of the dump material, among other categories.
Sources said as Goa receives very heavy rainfall during the monsoon, this factor should be critical while designing and executing safe dump disposal practices at mines. The change in behaviour of the geological material due to the presence of water poses a serious threat during the monsoon. The shear strength reduction due to rise in pore pressure leads to the failure, sources in the engineering field said.
Elucidating further, the source said: "The higher load due to the dump height and the presence of water reduces the frictional strength of the dumped material. Surface water flow and percolation within the dump slope may create hydropressure within the various voids, which will reduce the shear strength and factor of safety. The slope geometry and the geo-mechanical strength of the dump material always control the dump's safety factor. The director general of mines safety (DGMS) maintains that the dump slope should not be more than at an angle of repose of the dump material with a ratio of 1:3 of the bench width to bench height."


Neville said...

Law of the jungle prevailing in goa with our 40 useless politicians in power who are only concerned about what they can rake in.

Post a Comment