Problems of the Labour Working in Coal Mines

27 February 2012, Dhanbad

On 27 February the first halt of the journey was at village Murlidih in Dhanbad district where a meeting had been organised by the ‘Damodar Bachao Abhiyan’ and ‘Arpan’ social organization. Shri Jagannath Mahto of Murlidih village said that coal mining in the region began almost 100 years ago. In 1971 with nationalization of coal mines many public sector units such as Bharat Cooking Coal Limited began mining operations in new areas. As a result the labour working in these mines had many immediate benefits but in 2000 after reductions in the number of labour working the mines they faced major hardships. He said that in the Mohda regionalone mining is being done by BCCL in 38,898 hectares of land. Prior to mining this land was used for agriculture and was so prosperous that in 1967-68 when
there was a nationwide famine not a single person in the area died of starvation. Today 40 years hence more than 60% population of the region does not have access to basic facilities. According to the detailed project report released in 1971 the government promised resettlement, rehabilitation and
employment but it has failed to fulfill its promises. He said that the Government of India has begun the process of part privatization and is promoting contract labour instead of regular employment. A labour receives merely Rs120 after back breaking toil of 10-12 hours and this in itself is a violation of the minimum wages act. Addressing the meeting Shri Abdul Samar said that this region was much safer prior to the nationalization in1971 as now uncontrolled mining is turning into a nightmare for the habitants of the region. Cracks are appearing in agriculture and residential land and not a single company is filling up the mined pits with sand and gravel. This is leading to increased number of accidents and is a major safety hazard for the people living in the region. Shri Subhash Gyani of village Mahuda said that this region of Dhanbad is surrounded by coal mines on all sides andopen cast mining is being undertaken at more than 100 sites. Shri Dilip Singh of ‘Damodar Bachao Abhiyan’said that identity cards and safety equipments were not being given to the workers before entry into the mines. Not only this there was no registration of the workers before they enter the mines and so in case of accidents they cannot claim compensation from the companies. According to some scientific report the region has enough coal for the next hundred years but the speed at which mining is being done currently this coal reserve will come to an end within 30 years, he added. He announced support of ‘Damodar Bachao Abhiyan’ for the Jansatyagrah 2012.

The next halt of the journey was at village Chinpur in Dhanbad district. Shri Kodiram Bhagat of village Chinpur said that 26 families from the village had filed claims under the Forest Rights Act but only 4 families received 50 dismil land each. He also said that Jharia Dam was constructed in the region for increasing irrigation facilities but in the 20 tribal villages of the area not a single person has benefited from this dam.

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