BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI
GOVERNMENT has been accused of dragging its feet in addressing the underground coal seam fires at Hwange Colliery Company that have claimed lives and left some people disabled.
The Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) recently petitioned government over the fires.
This was after a report was made to the Mines ministry and Environmental Management Agency (Ema) about children being burnt in the coal seams in the mining town.
CNRG director Farai Maguwu told NewsDay that the government was reluctant to address the matter.
“Government, especially the Mines ministry, has been avoiding the issue after our report on children being burnt by the coal seam fires. We raised our concerns to the ministry and Ema and made follow-ups, but there has been no response,” Maguwu said.
A report by CNRG in November, revealed that there was evidence of the deleterious contribution of coal to climate change.
The CNRG has been documenting cases of villagers, in particular children, being burnt by underground coal fires.
“Some of the victims, who are now adults, were injured while young and had their future ruined by the permanent injuries, lengthy periods spent in hospitals and unending excruciating pain that has become a permanent experience in their lives, largely due to inadequate therapy they received,” the CNRG report said.
“The children who fall victim to the coal seam fires suffer a range of physical and psychological effects which include post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Mines minister Winston Chitando was not answering call when we tried to reach him for comment.
Research reveals that coal seam fires occur in underground natural coal seams, in exposed surface seams, and in coal storage or waste piles. The fires ignite through spontaneous combustion or natural or anthropogenic causes.