SHANGLA: Mineworkers rights’ activists in Shangla on Monday blocked the Bisham-Swat Road at Alpuri Chowk to protest against growing mine collapse incidents in which hundreds of workers from Shangla have lost their lives.

The demonstration was organised on the call of Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, to mark the mineworkers’ health and safety day.

Earlier, the activists took out a rally throughout the Alpuri Bazaar. The protesters carried banners and placards inscribed with demands for safety of mineworkers at the workplace, payment of compensation to the heirs of deceased labourers, and provision of education and other facilities to their children and families. They also chanted slogans against mine inspectors, owners and contractors.

Addressing the protesters, the federation’s vice president Ali Bhash Khan said about 70 per cent men, including teenagers, from Shangla worked at hundreds of coalmines across the country in very insecure conditions. He said often the families received bodies of loved ones.

He said most of the mines incidents occurred due to negligence of mines inspectors because they forced workers inside the dilapidated mines. He said there were hundreds of mines having been declared unsafe for excavation, but still they were operating.

“We demand of the government to immediately close all illegal mines and ensure safety at the workplace,” said Mr Khan.

Abid Yaar, another activist, said the government should announce stipend for the mineworkers who had been handicapped in mine accidents and were unable to feed their families. He also asked for implementing safety measures in mines and punishment to those not adhering to the safety laws.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019