There is no denying that the mining industry of Pakistan employs individuals to work in deplorable conditions, the manifestation of which is countless deaths at the hands of mines collapsing, insufficient training and a lack of equipment. As authorities scramble to save the lives of those pummelled under the ruins of the Ziarat marble mountain in Mohmand, the bleak prospects of being a miner become ever clearer for the entire country.

Poorly constructed mines for marble extraction were flooded with portions of a mountain on Monday, owing to a horrific landslide, causing the death toll to rise to 19 at the time of writing. Given that this accident is not an anomaly but part of a larger collection of mishaps that have robbed the lives of thousands, instant action for the protection of worker rights and enforcement of labour laws should be looked at more seriously by the government. However, what’s most unfortunate is that within a matter of days, it will either be forgotten or swept under the rug, allowing for the issue to remain unresolved completely.

Working in the mining industry may come with risks attached but certain provisions ensure that threats are neutralised and damages are minimised. Naturally, the terrain is unstable but, throughout the world, infrastructural planning is such that the safety of those working in the mines is ensured. This is a phenomenon seemingly unknown to Pakistan. Similarly, the government has failed to adhere to decades-old legislation, like the first Mine’s Act, according to which the presence of canteens, shelters, medical and breathing equipment, first aid rooms and living quarters is vital. Even a lack of training is an issue that can often result in fatalities. Surely, an industry which is vital for the survival of our economy shouldn’t come with a plethora of issues in regards to functioning.

It is time for the government to launch a large-scale restructuring programme to reduce the frequency with which such episodes occur, if not completely eliminate the threat of them happening in the first place.