Jharkhand: A coal worker's struggle to earn a livingWritten By Rahul Singh | Published on Updated: Sep 22, 2022, 19:22 IST | 1663854723749
Ramgarh: Devraj is a coal laborer who belongs to Mandu Block. In order to earn his daily wages he carries coal on his bicycle to sell them independently in the market. As our reporter confronted him in the first week of December at NH-33 it seemed that Devraj had substantial amount of coal on his bicycle. Further, upon trusting our reporter Devraj made a shocking revelation that the price of coal would just amount to eighteen hundred rupees. On top of that they are also bound to pay in the mines. Many laborers like Devraj travel 50-55 kilometers that take two days to accomplish. In this way they somehow manage to earn thousand rupees as per the number of trips.
Devraj reveals that he manages to make eight trips in a month and his monthly average income culminates to 8-9 thousand. Upon the humanitarian grounds when our reporter advised him to not travel bare chest amidst extreme cold in December, he said that his body is heats up like flames in taking such a long trip. Many people like him are considered to be the peripheral vendors of coal. Jharkhand being nation’s massive coal supplier has mines in twelve districts. These laborers travel across other twelve districts to supply coal to local consumers. Besides this they also deal with threats from both miners and police. The atrocity of these people is beyond imagination and they also face huge health risks in life.
The stories of these people are never addressed. According to a report by coal union committee in Chitra, Deoghar there are approximately one thousand laborers and there are 144 such hubs across the state. The crux of this situation lies in the fact that in most of the mining operations and management, people from outside the state has taken over the mines. The locals being unskilled face the ultimate setback. The statistics as reported by Fagu Besra says that only five percent of local people are involved in coal production. They never got any opportunity to hone their skills.
Fagu Besra is a political baron. He has served as secretary for coal laborer union and has also been a big face of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). He is at present undertaking the supervision of thirty projects offered through Central Coal Fields Limited (CCL). Besra also reflected his concern over mines that have been shut by now. Land acquisition brawls and failure in deliverance of cto are two major reasons behind the shut down as highlighted by him. Coal production generates a huge labor opportunities and a huge population in mining districts depend on this production chain. There is a huge loss of employment and livelihood due to shutting down of mines.
Dinesh Hansda who is a resident of Maandu Block belongs to Mahuataand village. He unfolds that most of the people migrate from these areas to work in other big cities upon the closure of mines. On the other hand huge companies engross in business at this place. The use of technology also supported in cutting out laborers. Earlier the workers were deployed for loading but now it has been replaced by automated payloads. Due to collective crisis most mines are eccentric with respect to operations.
Sukhdeo, a resident from kuju who is a degree holder working in a private firm told us that in his village there were around hundred trucks but presently only a few are left. As the mines started to shut down the truck owners had to sell off their vehicles. He himself was a truck owner in the past.
Coal is the crux of economy, energy and employment in Jharkhand. Around ten lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent on coal reserves. Eight percent of national coal mines are found in Jharkhand. At present eighty percent of mega industries depends upon coal extraction for energy and resources.
In accordance with the reports of ‘understanding transition in coal dependent communities’ a research has drawn lines between Mapumalnga, South Africa and Jharkhand in terms of coal production. It is found in the research that the demography of Jharkhand is completely different in terms of energy consumption. Besides rigorous mining, saving environment is a huge concern in Jharkhand. A strong compliance with locals as well as authorities should be initiated to stabilize the differences.