Dhobil (Jharkhand): Jablu Kandola walks 15km uphill daily to work at dusty Dhobil, one of the iron ore mines at the famous Chiria mines, for his livelihood.
Kandola is among 600 contract labourers who follow this routine to come back home exhausted to their ‘uninhabitable’ houses downhill at Chiria, about three hours drive from Jamshedpur.
“Now that you people have come now, I would like to invite you to our houses and know for yourselves the appalling condition in which we are living,” said Sushil Kumar, another mine labourer, who earns Rs61 a tonne of iron ore excavated.
Another worker pleaded with visiting newsmen accompanying the chairman of the Steel Authority of India Ltd, S K Roongta, on an inspection tour of the mines along with his officials on 29 April, to ensure arrangement of some transport to spare them the gruelling journey uphill.
As a concerned Roongta inquired from the labourers about the facilities they were getting, a labour leader, Rama Pandey, told him the hardship they were facing at Dhobil and nearby Sukhri mines where another six hundred contract workers work.
“We have schools, but hardly any teacher attends them and the story of the health centres is the same,” Pandey said as Roongta listened.
Currently, SAIL is pressing for the renewal of lease of the Agitaburu and Sukrilatur iron mines.