The Supreme Court’s ban on illegal mining in Bellary may curtail damage to the region’s environment, but it has also left countless locals and migrants without jobs.
Many local businessmen feel that steel industries in the districts have in fact rejuvenated the area. N. Bharani, of Point Blank Jeans, says “Biggest achievement of Bellary during the mining thing was possibly the government action or Bellary became a corporation. The roads were good. That’s the biggest achievement, earlier it was very pathetic.”
Before mining came to Bellary, thousands earned their livelihood in textile and granite industries. But when the steel and iron-ore industries started setting up business here, people from near and far started coming in looking for work. Now with the ban in place, employment and income is scarce. Lorry drivers and owners, who had taken loans to get trucks and dippers during better days, are unable to meet loan requirements, and some have lost their vehicles to their lenders.
Some are looking to leave Bellary and look for opportunities elsewhere. Mallekku, the wife of one of the miners in the area, is struggling to feed and educate her children and grandchildren.
“If the mines don’t open, we’ll have to leave this place and go somewhere else. We’ll have to find labor work there and make a living. If there’s no work here, then how can we live here?”