No takers for Mining Workers in Odisha!

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By Our Correspondent

JODA/KOIRA/BHUBANESWAR: With lease of major mines expiring by March 31 this year and the Naveen Patnaik led BJD Government put these mines for auction, lakhs of workers both skilled and unskilled working in various mines in Odisha’s mineral rich Keonjhar and Sundararh would lose their daily earning.

Trade Union leaders argued that new leaseholder to operate their mines is required to get statutory clearances such as environment and consent to operate under multiple forests and mining Acts.They said that the new leaseholders will take several months to obtain mandatory clearances. As a result, the labourers may lose their jobs till the new leaseholders start mining operations.

Trade Unions demanded that before auctioning the mines, the government should think of rehabilitating the workers related to mining activities. There is no provision for reappointing workers in the mines after auctions.

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However, the workers who are working under the existing lease holding companies are worried fearing job losses in case the new leaseholders get rid of them.As the state government has not set particular guidelines to protect the employment of the mineworkers, the workers are jittery.

Trade Union leaders demanded that the government should pay the mining labourers remuneration till the fresh leaseholders start mining activities.

Tribals of Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts primarily depend on mines and mines related transportation for their livelihood.  The locals have deployed their trucks and dumpers in the mines by taking loans from banks.

More than 50 lakh trucks are deployed in mining activities in the two districts. Freezing of mines will affect the livelihood of locals both directly and indirectly.

Sources said, the state-owned mining companies like OMC and OMDC have been lying closed for the last six years as they could not get environment clearance. Thousands of labourers who worked in these mines have been waiting for re-employment.

After closure of mines from March 2020, lakhs of people in both the districts will be left jobless for several months while the economy of the districts will weaken.

A total of 101 mines in both the districts have acquired agricultural land. The total agricultural land in both districts is limited to 12,320 hectares only.

From these land, 1000 hectares could be irrigated while 3000 hectares have been totally damaged due to adverse effect of mining activities.

The figures show that the residents of both the districts have to choose their primary occupation mining jobs as there is no other alternatives left for them.

Trade Union leaders suggested that the government come out with a clear cut policy for labourers in mineral bearing areas under such situations arising out of mines closure for longer period.

Meanwhile, South Eastern Railway (SER) has loaded 126.20 million tonne of freight upto December 2019, a 10.7% increase over the volume of freight loaded in the same period last year, an official statement said. SER is now poised to achieve 170 million tonne (mt) of originating freight loading in this financial year surpassing the target of 164 mt set by the Railway Board.

SER) is aiming to load 170 million tonnes of originating cargo in the 2019-20 fiscal. Till December 31, 2019, SER loaded 126.20 million tonnes, which is 10.7% more than the previous year. If SER succeeds in handling 170 million tonnes of originating cargo by March 31, 2020, it will surpass the 164 million tonnes target set by the Railway Board.

Rungta Mines Ltd, Tata Steel, Tata Metalics Ltd, SAIL, Haldia Port, CONCOR, Tata Steel Long Product, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, JSW Steel Ltd, Nuvoco Vistas, ACC Ltd, Ultratech Cement, JSW Cement, Dalmia Cement Bharat Limited, Bengal Energy Ltd, Sri Mahabir Ferro Alloy Pvt Ltd, Adani Logistics, Essel Mining, GSPL (Barbil), Jai Balaji, Rashmi Groups, IRC Agro Chemicals, TMill Logistics and Triveni Earth Movers, among others.

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