ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Coal Mining and Local Livelihoods

This article is an attempt to understand the consequences of the sudden collapse and subsequent deaths in August 2013 at the Kulda Opencast coal mine in the Basundhara-Garjanbahal area of Sundargarh district, Odisha. The poor management of such mines affects the local people who have been uprooted and their livelihoods destroyed. Their efforts to eke out a living by collecting coal from around these mines are termed "illegal mining" and leads to their victimisation.

On 10 August 2013, at least 14 labourers were killed (Hindustan Times 2013) and some others injured when a portion of the coal overburden1 suddenly collapsed at the Kulda Opencast coal mine in the Basundhara-Garjanbahal area of Sundargarh district, Odisha. This area comes under the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited (CIL).

The height of the dump was found to be above the permissible limit (Business Standard 2013). The victims were locals from the nearby villages. For the residents of the area, scavenging coal is a source of livelihood. The MCL authorities clarified that these victims were not their workers. By doing so, these victims were excluded from the benefits of all the institutional mechanisms meant for those working as mine workers.

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