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BGML smashes houses; workers riled

Kolar Gold Fields, August 20, DH News Service:

The company had allowed workers to occupy quarters after mines were closed

The demolition work on illegal constructions being undertaken by the Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML) security staff on the quarters of former gold mine workers has caused panic among the residents of the mining colony.

The compound wall of the house of a worker that the BGML security guards brought down, in the Italian Block of Marikuppam, Kolar Gold Fields, on Wednesday. DH PHOTO

 
The compound wall of the house of a worker that the BGML security guards brought down, in the Italian Block of Marikuppam, Kolar Gold Fields, on Wednesday. DH PHOTOLegislator Y Sampangi has written to BGML managing director B L Bhangra demanding that the action by the securitymen employed under contract be stopped immediately.
After the gold mines were shut down in 2001, workers were permitted to keep their dwellings, as part of the rehabilitation programme. Later, in 2004, the High Court permitted a special benefit terminal package as part of which more than 10,000 houses were sold to the workers and their families.

As owners, the workers tried to provide the houses with better facilities. They de-weeded the areas surrounding their houses and started building compound walls.

Unattended

The company did not show much enthusiasm towards protection of other gold mine property.


As a result, places of worship started coming in several places all over the area. Self-help groups started using empty buildings for their work. Influential people began occupying spacious bungalows. Relatives of the gold mine officials opened even educational centres in BGML buildings.

The workers’ quarters were handed over to them on condition that they do not utilise the buildings for commercial purposes or alienate them. There were, however, umpteen number of instances of violation of such restrictions, but the company took no action against them.

The company officials began demolishing illegal occupations when they were forced to act under orders from the Union Ministry of Mines.

However, instead of clearing all the encroachments, the officials are focusing on certain places only, much to the annoyance of the residents.

The administration is deeming illegal even the construction of private toilets, sewers and other such basic facilities, BGML workers’ union leaders said.

Workers oppose

The decision of the security guards to demolish the Angala Parameshwari Temple in Urigam last week had raised an uproar among the public.

The tahsildar as well as the police officials warned the security guards against causing a communal riot in the area.

The administration created further tumult by bringing down the compound wall of worker K C Murthy’s house in the Italian Block of Marikuppam on Wednesday.

Workers’ unions have protested strongly against the “inhuman” attitude of the administration. A case would be registered against the sudden demolition of a part of a worker’s house, said Jayakumar, representative of 16 workers’ unions.

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