…As Senate okays $1 billion cash for Ajaokuta***
No fewer than 13 young miners were trapped and feared dead after flooding in an illegal coal mine in India’s North-Eastern State of Meghalaya, Officials said on Friday.
The accident in the East Jaintia Hills district was reported to local authorities on Thursday, prompting rescue efforts by disaster management agencies.
“The men were working in the coal mine near Lytein River when it suddenly got flooded.
“We are trying hard to pump out water from the mine but it is very difficult and the chances of their survival look bleak,” district official Federick Dopth told dpa by telephone.
All the workers were young men, above the age of 18, Dopth said.
India’s national green tribunal had banned unscientific and unsafe mining in Meghalaya four years ago.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma admitted that illegal mining had begun at the site a couple of days ago and strict action would be taken against the offenders.
Indian media reports said a criminal case had been launched by police.
This is not the first time that workers engaged in illegal mining of coal have been trapped in a coal mine in Meghalaya.
At least 15 miners were trapped in a mine in the state’s South Garo Hills district in 2012; the bodies were never recovered.
Coal meets more than half of India’s energy needs.
The country is also the world’s third-largest coal producer but safety at its coal mines is poor and accidents are common.
In the meantime, the Senate yesterday okayed $1 billion for the completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company. The cash would come from the Federal Government’s share of excess crude revenue.
The upper chamber also said all monies that may from time to time be appropriated and authorised by any tier of government should be part of the funding for the completion of the project.
It said all loans or grants from time to time made to the country for the purpose of completing the Ajaokuta Steel Company should be accommodated.
This followed the adoption of the “Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill, 2018 passed by the Senate.
The Bill slated for concurrence, was presented by Senate Leader, Senator Ahme Lawan.
The proposed legislation stated that the monies in the fund shall be applied by the minister subject to appropriation by the National Assembly only for the construction, improvement, extension, enlargement and replacement of infrastructure and works, including the provision, acquisition, improvement and replacement of other capital assets required in respect of or in connection with the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company project. It added that the cash shall be used for the acquisition of land and of any right or interest in or over land and in respect of the use of any invention; the carrying on of any survey, research or investigation preparatory to the under taking of any such purpose as is referred to in paragraph a and b or the formation of any plan or scheme for the development, improvement, of Ajaokuta Steel Company project.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said the Bill, if signed into law, would go a long way to facilitate the quick completion of the Ajaokuta Steel complex.
The Senate also adopted the Presidential Programme on Rehabilitation and Reintegration (establishment and implementation) Bill 2018.
The Bill provides legal instrument to implement the Presidential Amnesty programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.
Additional report from The Nation