The mining sector is critical to India’s economic and social well-being. As on today, mining and quarrying sector has a contribution of around 2.39 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The latest figure on Index of Industrial Production (IIP) shows 2.9 percent growth of mining sector. The economic reforms and changes in the economy in recent past have propelled the Indian mineral industry into a new and competitive environment where to survive one has to become competitive. Much has been achieved in the recent past in the economic reforms and legislative changes to facilitate investments in the mineral sector but much remains to be done. India, being a developing economy, is dependent on the growth of energy sector in order to achieve the desired economic growth.
As the mineral resources are limited and non-renewable, it becomes imperative to achieve the best use of available mineral resources by scientific methods of mining along with highest safety standards. There has been quantum jump in the output of coal, metal/non-metal and oil/gas through revolution in economic reforms, technological upgradation, intensive mechanization, detailed exploration and opening up new projects and at the same time employment of persons has also been increased in the mines of our country. The persons working in the mining industry are exposed to risk of health and safety because of inherent hazards. The activities related to safety of persons employed in mines are highly dynamic in nature and may change abruptly. Today’s scenario is calling for bulk production by deploying high capacity machineries and applying total productive maintenance which pose more dangerous conditions. In fact, the rapidly changing scenario of mining industry the world over and specifically in India has introduced newer hazards and safety concerns at workplace. These hazards pose new challenges for occupational safety and health professionals as well as mining technocrats and will require comprehensive surveillance at workplaces and newer strategies for prevention of accidents in mines. The traditional approach towards safety has stopped yielding better results.
Over the years, many rules, regulations, circulars, byelaws, standards, etc. have been established to ensure that the activities at work do not affect the safety and health of the miners adversely. Our endeavour to bring down the hazards to prevent accidents and occupational diseases by all available means to an acceptable level is continuing.
In order to minimise the risk and ensure safety of work persons employed in mines, the proactive risk based Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) should gradually replace existing Rule based Safety and Health Management System. To develop an adequate and effective Risk based SHMS, a sound risk analysis process is necessary to address the significant hazards identified by the analysis / assessment with continual improvement in changing scenario. DGMS proposes to incorporate the development of Risk based SHMS in mines safety legislations. To cater with any sudden eventuality, an adequate and effective emergency response plan based on risk assessment studies should also be included in SHMS.
DGMS is also stepping towards Digital DGMS in line with the National e-governance Plan by utilizing the power of IT. Computer-based examination system for senior statutory examinations under the Coal Mines Regulations, randomised inspection system, online filing of Annual Return have already been introduced. Several other software modules like online approval system, online permission system etc. are on pipeline to ensure transparency, reliability and accountability.