Sunday, September 10, 2006

The price of coal in India...

While looking up other matters about India, I found the item below in the Tribune, Chandigarh.
I have decided to put it in my blog as a reminder that besides political and religious extremism and terrorism, ordinary everyday capitalism also kills. Guess the death of 50 miners, though bigger than the toll from the horrific Malegaon bombing, is nothing to India's infamous Bhopal disaster.
So that is why it has not made the British media.

50 miners feared dead

Blast triggers gas leak, fire in Dhanbad

Dhanbad, September 7 At least 43 of the 50 miners trapped in a coalmine here have died due to inhalation of carbon monoxide following an explosion underground and the authorities virtually ruled out the survival of the remaining.

“Rescue teams have located 43 bodies from the Bhatdih mines of which 34 have been brought to the upper level,” the Dhanbad Deputy Commissioner Bela Rajesh said, adding efforts were on to trace the remaining bodies.

Fearing the worst, Coal Minister Shibu Soren, who visited the accident site, announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the families of the deceased workers and a job to their kin.

Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL) Chairman and Managing Director Partha S. Bhattacharya had earlier said “the possibility of the survival of the miners is bleak.

Twenty rescue teams from BCCL and other Coal India subsidiaries, Eastern Coalfields and Central Coalfields, were engaged in rescue operations and were drilling holes to let in fresh air into the mine which collapsed yesterday trapping the miners at Bhartdih mine. Four of them managed to come out.

Soren said rescue teams were close to the site of accident at the gassy mine under Nagda colliery of BCCL.

“The miners were working at a depth of 460 metres (1,510 feet) when the explosion and the gas leak reduced the oxygen level to almost zero,” Bhattacharya said.

Although rescue operations were launched overnight, officials said they had given up on finding any survivors as rescue teams had only been able to get past level six or seven of the 18-level mine. The 50 miners were believed to be trapped in the last level.

Thousands of locals, including families of the 50 men, crowded outside the mines and shouted slogans criticizing the state government.
Rescuers said a fire in the mine, triggered by the blast, had made their task tougher. “We can’t breathe at all,” one rescuer said. “And there are no maps of these mines, so finding our way through is also difficult.” — PTI, Reuters

...and China

India and China are supposed to be competing Asian "miracles", destined to new economic superpowers. So we might as well note this from the London Independent:

China's coal catastrophe
China produces more coal than anywhere else in the world, fuelling the country's economic boom. But it comes
at a terrible price: the mines are the world's deadliest, and their
environmental impact is catastrophic. Safer - and cleaner - technology exists.
But is there the political will to make it happen?
Report by Clifford Coonan
Published: 29 July 2006

The trucks rattling away from the collieries in China's Shanxi province are on a tight schedule. There are lumps of coal lying on the grass verges beside the roads. Pollution from the coking plants chokes the air while in some places the whole landscape looks like it's been coated with fine coal dust.
Datong is one of these places.
The city is one of the three most polluted in China ...

and then there is opencast mining in Bangladesh, by a British-owned company, concern over which has prompted a general strike; but I'll get back to that.

It will shortly be the 72nd anniversary of Britain's worst mining disaster, which occurred at 2am on Saturday morning, September 22, 1934 in the Gresford colliery, near Wrexham, north-east Wales, which had perhaps the deepest shaft in the country, the Dennis section. Heavy unemployment had forced the miners to risk dangerous conditions for low pay.

The Gresford Disaster

You've heard of the Gresford Disaster,
The terrible price that was paid;
Two hundred and sixty five colliers were lost,
And three men of the rescue brigade.

It occurred in the month of September
At three in the morning that pit,
Was racked by a violent explosion
In the Dennis where the gas lay so thick.

The gas in the Dennis deep section
Was heaped there like snow in a drift,
And many a man had to leave the coal-face,
Before he had worked out his shift.

A fortnight before the explosion,
To the shotfirer Tomlinson cried,
"If you fire that shot we'll be all blown to hell!"
Now no one can say that he lied.

The fireman's reports they are missing
The record of forty-two days;
The colliery manager had them destroyed
To cover his criminal ways.

Down there in the dark they are lying.
They died for nine shillings a day;
They have worked out their shift and now they must lie
In the darkness until Judgement day.

The Lord Mayor of London's collecting
To help out the children and wives;
The owners have sent some white lilies
To pay for the poor colliers' lives.

Farewell our dear wives and our children
Farewell all our comrades as well,
Don't send your sons down the dark dreary pit,
They'll be doomed like the sinners in hell.

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