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''Mining industry occupies important position in national economy'': Mukherjee

''Mining industry occupies important position in national economy'': MukherjeeNew Delhi, Nov 21 : President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the mining industry occupies an important position in the national economy by not only employing over one million persons, but also producing basic raw materials for many industries, including the core sector.

President Mukherjee, who conferred the National Safety Awards (Mines) for the Years 2008, 2009 and 2010 at a function organized in Vigyan Bhavan here, stated that this is a time of introspection as issues such as increased mechanization, emphasis on protection of environment, stringent social demand on safety at workplaces, large scale introduction of information technology in mining industry, more difficult geo-mining locales and cost considerations pose challenges to the mining industry in India.

"In this changed scenario, all stakeholders will constantly need to be a step ahead of the learning curve and continuously re-invent business and technological processes," he said.

President Mukherjee stated that the country would have to rely more and more on coal in the next 10 to 15 years to meet the developmental needs and vast requirement of energy.

The President, however, said that ''to make increased dependence on coal a sustainable phenomenon, we will have to move towards cleaner technologies so that the environment is not unduly stretched''.

He expressed confidence that the National Safety Awards (Mines) would prove to be an excellent catalyst in upholding health, safety and welfare standards in our mines.

Union Minister of Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge and Minister of State for Labour and Employment K. Suresh were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India, instituted the National Safety Awards (Mines) in 1983 for the contest year 1982 to promote a competitive spirit amongst mine operators for the betterment of safety standards in mines and to give due recognition to outstanding safety performance at the national level.

The National Safety Awards (Mines) scheme is applicable to all mines, which come under the purview of the Mines Act 1952. (ANI)