Monday, 30th October 2017

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Lease of entrepreneurial life for women mine workers

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  • Published 6.09.10

Ranchi, Sept. 5: From petty labourers to prosperous entrepreneurs — the life of women toiling in East Singhbhum mines to earn a paltry Rs 50 a day will soon turn around, thanks to the district administration.

In an ambitious project that aims to make these women workers financially independent, the East Singhbhum administration has decided to lease out mining sites to them so that they can make more profit.

Both self-help groups and groups formed by these women can come forward to file applications for becoming the stakeholders. The administration is planning to lease out around 30 potential mining sites by the end of this month.

“As of now, we have received applications from five interested parties — primarily from Chakulia, Musabani and Potka. We are hopeful that we will get a few more applications in the coming days, as the feedback says that the project has generated great interest among the women,” East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Himani Pandey told The Telegraph.

“We cannot disclose who the applicants are because we are at a stage of finalising names,” she added.

District mining officer Ratnesh Kumar Singh added that more groups had shown interest. “On a daily basis, we are receiving queries from 10 groups,” he said.

The officials are currently holding regular meetings with interested parties. Sessions to explain the procedure are also being held.

So, what triggered this unique idea?

“You will see that almost every mining site has a huge women workforce. These women work under extreme conditions, quarrying for coal and stones and ferrying them to the market. At the end of the day, they earn something between Rs 50 and Rs 100. Their pathetic condition prompted us to think of a way to make them feel they had a right to the fruit of their labour,” Pandey said.

The application criteria is simple. “An interested party needs to submit a draft of Rs 5,000 with a declaration of not holding any other illegal mining site. After this, we will send the application to the district forest and land departments for evaluation. Post-clearance, a field inspection will be conducted and the site allotted. The five applications that we have received are with the two departments. Hopefully, we will get the clearance letter within 10 days,” said Singh.

“There are about 200 mining sites in the district. The decision to grant stone quarrying lease doesn’t require the state or the Centre’s sanction. The deputy commissioner has the authority to approve the sites after all procedures are complete and the gram sabhas issue no-objection certificates,” the mining officer said.

On how the initiative would benefit the women, he explained, “If a truck ferries 200 cubic feet stones, the women can earn Rs 500 a day. Thus, if four trucks make trip to the market a day, they will earn a steep Rs 2,000.”