COAL MINERS’ DAY 2022: The dependence on coal for energy needs is rising across the planet. Demand for coal is also growing for its use in cement and steel manufacturing. Coal miners are the most valuable and indispensable workforce in this regard. Miners work in hazardous conditions under the earth’s crust and often suffer from respiratory illness or die in mining accidents.
National Coal Miners’ Day, celebrated on May 4 annually, highlights the contributions of coal miners in meeting our energy demands. Below, we share a bit of the history of coal mining, the current energy scenario, and the role of coal miners in India.
Coal Miners’ Day: History
While the first-ever coal mine was opened in 1575 by one George Bruce of Carnock, Scotland. India, however, got its first coal mine in the year 1774, notes the Ministry of Coal website. This mine is the Raniganj Coalfield, at the banks of the river Damodar, which functioned under the erstwhile East India company’s John Summer and Suetonius Grant Heaty. Following Independence, India’s coal usage climbed with the 5-year development roadmap laid down by the new government.
Coal Miners’ Day: Mine conditions
Conditions inside coal mines all around the world are treacherous, even to this date. Mines would collapse, trapping or killing the miners. The coal dust would cause several respiratory problems for the workers. Their risk of dying from lung cancer can also increase.
The miners belong to deprived classes of people from villages and cannot afford treatments. There are instances where women are paid less wage than men or get sexually assaulted.
Coal Miners’ Day: Indian laws that protect miners
The Mines Act 1952, Mine Rules 1955, Coal Mine Regulation-1957, among others, lay down the provisions for the health, safety and welfare of workers in coal, oil and metal mines.
The act lays down the minimum wages for miners, extra wages for overtime, the working hours, employment of women, leaves, compensations and punishments for owners violating the laws. Meetings are held multiple times a year by the Standing Committee on Safety in Coal Mines to highlight violations.