Telangana: Miners call for end to open cast mines

Coal miners in the 5th incline mine in Godavarikhani.

Coal miners working in the coal belt of Telangana state form a formidable vote bank for the political parties in the state. The Singareni Collieries which has 48 mines spread across six districts of the undivided Andhra Pradesh employs over 60,000 directly.

The union is in the hands of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s affiliate Telangana Boggu Gani karmika Sangham (TBGKS) under the active patronage of Nizamabad MP and daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.


The 5th incline mine in Godavarikhani.

Huge promises were made for the betterment of the lives of these coal miners and their families by the political parties at the time of elections every term. However, in reality, there is not much difference in the lives of these coal miners as slowly the mining company is shutting down labour intense underground mines and converting them to open cast mines.

“This incline is set to close soon as this will be converted into an open cast mine,” said Narayana at the 5th Incline mine here told DH. The miners here say that open cast mines spread a layer of coal particles in the atmosphere affecting their health very badly.
 
“The TRS and the union that is supporting the party have promised a super speciality hospital for the coal miners here but nothing has worked out so far and we still have to go Hyderabad which is 226 km from here,” V Satish Kumar, another coal miner at the incline said.

The coal miners at the Vithal Nagar colony adjacent to the Open Cast Mine-3 complain vibration round the clock and cracks in their houses which were built by the company five decades ago. “The government is promising two-bedroom houses for the poor, why don’t they give those houses to us,” Satish said.
 
The coal miners are asking for interest-free loans to construct homes. “The TRS government has increased our salaries and we are very happy for that. But unlike defence forces the tax deductions are high.
 

We have a cut of Rs 10,000 per month for various taxes which could be used for paying home loans,” Sudhakar a miner said. The coal miners are also demanding jobs to their children under compassionate grounds.

 
However, the courts have directed the Collieries to provide employment to dependents of employees who become medically invalid as per rules apart from those who die while in service. 

 

 

Those miners who want to make way to their children including spouse and unmarried daughters have to go through a process called ‘medical invalidation’. “Not many get the medical invalidation by the medical board. Even if I want to quit the job owing to ill health or fatigue the Board is not ready to certify. So only a minuscule number of our children get the job,” a coal miner Tirupathi rued.

 

The coal miners also point out that soon there will be no permanent jobs in the coal mines as the jobs are now filled by contract workers from states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh. “The TRS has promised that there will no more contract jobs in Telangana, but it is not true,” Tandra Kanakayya says.

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Telangana: Miners call for end to open cast mines

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