SMT. PRATIBHA PATIL GIVES AWAY THE NATIONAL SAFETY AWARDS (MINES) New Delhi,6 May:The President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has urged all the stakeholders of mining fraternity – the government, business & industry, academics and researchers – that all necessary steps must be taken to minimise the adverse impact of mining on the health of workers and the surrounding population. She said that there was a need for improvement in ecological conditions in order to provide a better environment to workmen and to local inhabitants in mining areas and called for the efforts to keep the environment free from pollution for a sustainable mining industry.
The President was speaking after giving away the National Safety Awards (Mines) for the years 2004, 2005 & 2006 here today. In all, there were 17 Winner prizes and 17 Runner-up prizes which were given away to the winning mines at the Awards Function organised at Vigyan Bhawan by the Ministry of Labour and Employment for each contest year. The award for each mine was received jointly by one management representative and one workers’ representative.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that living conditions of coal miners could be improved by providing and improving basic facilities such as housing, water supply, medical care and education. The President pointed out that given the hazardous nature of mining, despite safeguards, accidents happen which often result in the loss of life or limb of persons engaged in mining and therefore, Smt. Patil stressed, it was imperative that welfare schemes that provide financial security, health related care, housing and shelter for those disabled or injured in mining operations and for the old employees of companies after retirement should be put in place and implemented.
Smt. Pratibha Patil also said that the needs of women engaged in the mining sector should get their due care and gender-sensitive approaches should be adopted towards this end. The President expressed the hope that industry, government, business, academics or research – all were ready to take up the challenge and manage such changes responsibly to make the mining sector a secure work place as well as a powerful driver of the growth of the Indian economy.
The President said that the era of globalization, which demands competitive and efficient functioning, has resulted in the need for a new work culture and business environment in the mining sector. As mine operators look at ways and means to improve efficiency and cut costs, workers’ safety measures should also receive greater consideration, she said and added that the mining industry must adequately discharges its ‘social responsibility’.
Smt. Pratibha Patil said that more companies should put their efforts in creating a safe working environment and for measures to protect their workers by enhancing safety budgets. She said that the twin concepts of “Self-regulation” and “Workers’ Participation in Safety Management” have proved to be useful and contributed to a decline in fatality rates. Their use should be further explored, she suggested and said that participation and cooperation of mine workers, as important stakeholders, in formulating safety measures must be secured.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Rural Development, Shri Chandra Sekhar Sahu called for formulating a comprehensive mechanism for occupational health surveillance in mines to take preventive and corrective measures for ensuring proper health condition of lakhs of mines workers. He said that with opening of mining sector, the need to maintain vigilance on the safety front has increased and it must be ensured that the commensurate safety standards and procedures are also brought in place to safeguard our workers when the modern technology for stepping up productivity is being inducted in the mining sector.
Stating that the safety is a fundamental human right, the Minister said that in the era of globalization, we will have to move into a fast forward mode to face the emerging challenges of safety by giving more thrust on Research and Development in the area of mine safety, application of electronics and instrumentation etc.
Shri Sahu said that in view of the increasing privatization and outsourcing of activities, safety issues of contractors’ workers are gaining more and more importance and therefore, we will have to see that the interest of the contractor’s workers is also well protected, at par with the regular employee of the organization.
The Minister said that the onus of implementation of the National Education Plan for improving skill level of the workforce in the mining sector lies with all the mining companies and he urged upon them to come out with a comprehensive programme in this regard so that the mines become more and more safe for the workers.
Shri Sahu said that the Government is fully committed to welfare of the workers of the unorganized sector and for ensuring a secure future for their families in every respect.
The Secretary (Labour and Employment), Smt. Sudha Pillai congratulated the winners of the National Safety Awards (Mines) and called for enhanced steps to continuously step up the safety procedures to make the mining activity safer. She said that effective safety programmes will only become a reality when the management at all levels fully integrate safety responsibility into the industry’s mainstream. This will not result from safety programmes that are superimposed upon the industry, but only when safety is fully accepted as an integral part of the industry and its mission, Smt. Pillai added.