Millennium Post

Govt may shut some unsafe Coal India mines, says Goyal

The government is planning to soon shut some of the mines of the state-owned Coal India that are relatively unsafe and produce small quantity of coal.

The plan follows announcement of a safety audit of all the 418 mines in the country in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in Jharkhand that claimed at least 18 lives.

"We have done the safety audit of all the coal mines, particularly the underground mines. So, we will soon be taking a view on some of the unsafe mines where we think it may be better not to produce... which are of a very small quantity," Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told PTI here.

The minister is on a trip to Austria and the United Kingdom for the Energy Dialogue.

"We will be looking at closure of some of these unsafe mines," the minister said.

He refused to put a number to the mines for such closure, only stating that the coal ministry is still awaiting the safety audit reports.

"We will have a report from the DGMS. We will also have a report from an independent committee," he said. Most of the unsafe mines in question are of Coal India (CIL), Goyal said.

"Putting all of them together, we will come up with those mines which are not safe to operate and should not be allowed to continue," he added.

Meanwhile, Piyush Goyal on Friday also lent full support to the proposed merger of Coal Mines Provident Fund with EPF saying it will safeguard workers' interests, even as the unions opposing it prepare to go on a 3-day strike next month.

"Yes, I believe that for the future, employees' provident fund organisation, which is the largest national body, should also look after the provident fund of the coal mines workers," Goyal said.

Around five lakh coal workers from different subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd have decided to go on a three-day nation-wide atrike from June 19- 21.

"Every workers existing right will be protected, safeguarded and there is no question of any worker suffering any loss," Goyal, the power and coal minister, said. He felt that it will require some more engagements with the unions to explain how they stand to benefit from the proposed merger.

"The only loss will be of the fiefdom of certain people who may be managing the Coal Mines Provident Fund which will be taken away because I believe the national employees' provident fund is a better managed organisation," Goyal said.

"It gives better returns then the Coal Mines Provident Fund investments and therefore, it is in the national interest, public interest and workers' interest," the minister said.

When asked if the government will approach the unions to stop them from going ahead with the strike, Goyal said, "I always have the policy of talking to people. I will certainly talk to the unions."
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