Lorry owners and labour contractors dependent on mining urged the government to boost the industry in Karnataka to help thousands of families relying on the sector.
Nearly a thousand people from Ballari and Chitradurga districts staged a protest at Freedom Park, organised by the Karnataka Mining Dependents' Forum.
Rajkumar, a forum member, leading the protest, said he was a lorry owner from Chitradurga. "Mining provides jobs to 30,000-odd families in these districts, where agriculture has come to a standstill. Ever since mining stopped 10 years ago, people have been suffering as there are no jobs," he said.
Sirajuddin, another lorry owner from Chitradurga, said states like Odisha, Goa, Maharashtra and Assam were doing well in mining, but Karnataka had lagged behind. "We don't know why the government is not interested in rebooting the sector despite clearances from the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court," he said.
Most of the villagers from the two districts at the protest were lorry drivers, their families and those engaged in loading and unloading.
Parashuram Marappa, a 30-year-old lorry driver from Papinayakanahalli in Hosapete taluk, Ballari, said getting a driving job in logistics was difficult and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme had not been able to fulfil the family's needs.
"Of the assured Rs 160 per day, panchayat officials take a cut of Rs 10 to 20. How is it enough?" he asked.
Yellavva said her son used to earn about Rs 500 per day in 'levelling', where the load on a truck is smoothened and covered with a tarpaulin sheet.
The forum members would meet the secretary, Mines and Geology Department and the chief secretary to submit their demands.