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Government mulls 25 new mines

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, JULY 9. Proposals of the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) management to open 25 new mines during the 12th Plan and before 2017 are under consideration of the Government.

The mines would be opened in a phased manner, the Finance Minister, K. Rosaiah, told the Assembly on Friday. Responding to the issue of welfare of labourers working in coalmines and opening of new mines raised by several members, he assured to take up with the Centre their plea for exempting miners from income tax. Efforts were on to increase the volume of the business of the collieries which, he said, had turned the corner in the recent past. On employment for dependants and extension of facilities such as staff quarters and payment of ex gratia, Mr. Rosaiah said a decision would be taken after discussions with officials of the collieries, MLAs and the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, soon.

In a written statement, he said the collieries was fulfilling statutory obligations and providing additional welfare measures although not required under the statute.

The Labour Minister, G. Vinod, said he would discuss with the Centre the issue of extending IT exemption to miners.Raising the issue, K. Lingaiah (TRS) urged the Government to take welfare measures for miners such as payment of scholarships, interim relief, ex gratia for accidental deaths and open new mines so that employment could be provided to the youth of Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam and Warangal districts.

D. Sridhar Babu (Congress) called for implementation of welfare-oriented policies by the management, particularly extending housing loan facility and a comprehensive drinking water facility. Ch. Rajeswara Rao (TDP) while supporting members' plea for extending basic facilities in the mines, however, decried attempts to privatise the collieries.

N. Narasimhaiah of the CPI(M) urged the management to implement safety measures. He, however, expressed concern over the slash in number of employees from one lakh to 93,700.

C. Venkat Reddy (CPI) opposed any move to lease out some mines. V. Venkateswara Rao (Congress) pleaded for opening of new mines.

Incentive sought

Meanwhile, leaders of four trade unions have called on the Chief Minister demanding that incentive for SCCL workers be released for the profits earned by the company in the last financial year. An incentive of 11 per cent of the gross income of the company was disbursed to workers in 2002-03 and the same was demanded at the rate of 15 per cent for last year, the union leaders -- Y. Gattaiah (AITUC), K. Mallaiah (TRS), Riaz Ahmed (HMS) and Kesava Reddy (TNTUC) -- told reporters here on Friday. They met the Chief Minister under the leadership of the Technical Education Minister, N. Narasimha Reddy, who is State president of the HMS.

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