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The Plight of Coal Miners

By: Inzamam Qasim Silachi

Pakistan with its vast land area is bestowed with the natural resources. Coal mining is the indispensable part of our economy. It contributes about 3% to our GDP apart from this it also fulfills need of energy production, domestic use, industrial use etc. In Pakistan there are thousands of coal mines in every province of country. These all coal mines are given on contract bases to private contractors. From 2015-2016 approximately 1,965 billion tons of coal were extracted in Pakistan. Every month billions of rupees are earned by bigwigs of our country.

In lieu of this significance the coal miners are living miserable and poor life. Explaining their plight is really agonizing. They are suffering from fatal ailments. Many of them were suffering from T.B, Asthma, and Lungs disease. The low wage, hazardous working conditions, lack of incentives and incessant deadly accidents further aggravate the situation.

According to labor rights watchdog from 2010 to 2016 over 228 coal miners killed in myriad accidents and scored injured. In deadly accidents and lack of medical facilities doctors become helpless other than to amputate their body parts. The victims become handicapped and it plunged their life to the darkness of despondency and reliance on others. The wages are low that it becomes hard for them to keep their soul and body together. They are also deprived of basic amenities like medical, potable water, housing facility, hygienic food and basic education for their children.

I am living in Mach area. The is the backward and penurious area. There are several coal mines but I was flabbergasted to see that the workers were living in hellish and pathetic conditions. They were no ample security measures even workers were not wearing helmets. The contractors are earning millions of rupees from them but they were getting insufficient pay. Their daily wage and working hours were also not fixed. They security forces including frontier constabulary (FC), levies force are harassing them on the pretext of security and charging huge sums of money.

Many times the attention of high authorities was drown to this crisis hit sector but they always turned blind eye to this grave issue and sector. Even the district administration has never bothered to visit their place for inspection. The government of Pakistan should ratify ILO convention treaties on health and safety of workers. They also should take some adequate and stringent measures for the well-being of coal miners. They also should be given carte blanche to constitute their unions for reinforcement of their fundamental rights. By reinvigorating this sector, it will directly boom up our economy.

The writer hails from Mach Bolan. He is doing BS in International Relations from Quaid-e- Azam University Islamabad.

Published in The Balochistan Point on July 27, 2017

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