Labourers in mining areas staring at uncertain future

Bhubaneswar: Labourers in several mineral rich belts in Odisha are now staring at an uncertain future after being rendered jobless since the closure of mines in their respective regions.

The State government had earlier closed down 152 mines based on Shah Commission’s report over illegal mining and now seven more mines have been closed as the leaseholders failed to deposit the penalty imposed by the Supreme Court.

The closure of mines has adversely affected the livelihoods of labourers engaged in the mining sector particularly in Keonjhar district.

“We were earlier getting jobs in mining areas and we are facing problems due to closure of mines. Hence, we are forced to move outside State in search of work,” said Sudarshan Padei, a labourer.

Not only the labourers, the closure of mines has also started to impact ancillary industries besides the steel sector. The cost of iron-ore per tonne has increased by at least by Rs 600 to Rs 1,000 already which is likely to hit production of sponge iron, said Chairman of Sponge iron production union, Gaurishankar Agarwal.

 

However, Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick ruled out that closure of mines will affect iron ore production.