This is the umpteenth time that coal mines are the subject matter of an editorial. This is the umpteenth time that the plea of taking measures in this regard will fall on deaf ears. Nothing concerning poor ever concerns the authorities. Deaths after deaths every year that go unaccounted for in killer coal mines of Pakistan give credence to the bitter reality that poor’s life is cheap in this country.

The ongoing operation to recover 11 miners trapped in Deagari area of Quetta has bleak chances of success. Death is a constant stalker of life in the coal mines of Pakistan. According to a finding, just in last one year, more than 160 labourers died while meeting accidents of one kind or another in the mines. And at least 300 miners in this period got injured because of poor safety conditions in these mines. Inarguably, these mines are the real death wells.

But some things will never change in Pakistan: the callousness of our elected ministers and lethargy of the esteemed bureaucracy. The Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Balochistan, Shafqar Fayyaz, tells us to remain calm as authorities were trying level best to take the workers out of the death trap.

One could let an accident go if it is first of its kind. But the coal mine accidents are a routine now. When will the government change its perception about poor’s lives? When will the holders of power corridors realise that the poor’s blood is also red? Probably the poor make it to the lowest on the priority list of the state. Therefore, despite hundreds of casualties that happen in coalmines accidents every year, the authorities have taken no steps to minimise the human losses.

But is inaction of the state in this regard a part of the neoliberal economic model that we are living under? Is state’s non-intervention part of the deregulation necessary for a neoliberal economy? At least, the state can force the owners of these mines to take necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the workers who mine as deep as 300 feet below surface level.

What is mindboggling is the authorities’ little concern for enforcing the law. This editorial does not want the authorities to go out of the way to protect labourers’ lives. But it surely does ask the officials to ensure that the regulations framed under the Mines Act, 1923 are implemented fairly and squarely. The officials can save many lives even if they ensure practising of the safety and labour welfare regime of the said Act.