CIL subsidiary alleged to have compromised mine safety
Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL), a subsidiary of Coal India (CIL), has come under the Competition Commission of India (CCI) scanner for floating a vendor-biased global tender against the country’s competition rule, thereby compromising the safety of mines.
A source in the CCI told FE that BCCL floated a tender in November 2012 asking for Mine Slope Stability Monitoring Radar. But the specifications given were out dated and not vendor neutral. The specification only supported one technology — Real Aperture Radar (RAR) system. Only one company across the globe still uses this technology to supply mine safety apparatus and none of the mining giants worldwide rely on it to ensure mine safety.
Mine Slope Stability Monitoring Radar is used to monitor mine slopes, dumps and high walls formed due to overburdening or soil removal during excavation. The radar system detects movement of overburdens and warns of an impending danger so that people and equipment are removed before a slope breaks and blocks a pit head.
The latest technology used for monitoring the stability of mine slopes detect sub-millimetre changes to give an early warning of an impending disaster.
A CCI official said BCCL’s tender doesn’t conform to the director general of mine safety’s (DGMS’s) circular, which asks for adoption of suitable and latest technology for ensuring mine safety. BCCL should have reviewed the technology, it was ordering for, with the mining electronics department of Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI). But it did not bother to do so.
Earlier, Northern Coalfields and Western Coalfields floated similar tenders limiting scope for only RAR-based systems. But these tenders are at present under the scrutiny of the vigilance department of the respective subsidiaries, the CCI official said.
Although calls to BCCL chairman and managing director TK Lahiri went unanswered and there were no reply to written queries, a BCCL official said on the condition of anonymity that the tender didn’t violate the DGMS circular and it was not compromising mine safety.
RAR technology was an established technology used worldwide for many years and it didn’t fail in ensuring mine safety. Although there were other advanced technologies available to determine mine slope stability, BCCL looked for a comparatively cheaper one, he said. “We have gathered information that newer technologies are cost effective and there are technologies, which can function with solar power. BCCL did not opt for any form of efficiency,” said the