The in-principle agreement between the Ministry of Mines and Steel and the State Government of Karnataka to appoint an officer to look into the possibilities of State government taking over the defunct BGML was welcomed by the participants of the seminar conducted in KGF. The seminar was organized on 10th July 2014 at BEML Tamil Mandram, KGF, by Peoples Movement for KGF Development to discuss the impact of the revival of BGML on the people of KGF.
The organizers invited civil society organizations, youth organizations, women’s organizations, heads of all religious organizations, educational institutions, KGF Advocates Associations, merchants associations, Auto and Taxi Drivers Associations in KGF.
The participants of the seminar considered various aspects of revival of BGML such matters as to where the mining operation is contemplated, employment opportunities, the question of housing of nearly 70,000 to 80,000 people living in the mining area and the environmental impact of mining operations.
It was observed that the workers, fourth generation miners who operated Asia’s largest and deepest gold mine, do menial jobs in Bangalore, which may not be revealed by their attire or smiling faces. Behind these smiling faces lie a lot of grief, desperation and concern about an uncertain future. Employees, ex-employees and their children are now taking up all kinds of low paying jobs – construction work, painting, bar bending, loading and unloading. There is need for new initiatives from the state and Union Government to create enabling conditions to provide employment opportunities and to ensure social entitlements such as housing rights and provision of basic amenities.
After detailed discussions the participants of the seminar endorsed the following resolutions which would be submitted to the BGML management, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, Hon’ble Prime Minister and His Excellency the President of India.
- The principles laid down in the Supreme Court judgment in the year 2013 in the case of BGML exhibit the need for workers participation in the management. Keeping with the spirit of the judgment the State and the Union Governments must involve all the 18 BGML Trade Unions and all the BGML Industrial Co-operative Societies right from the stage of study to explore the possibilities of State Government taking over BGML. It would be desirable if an understanding is arrived so that the State Government and BGML workers jointly promote a new enterprise to revive BGML with workers participation in the management.
- It is very pertinent that the Union Government must on a priority basis settle the remaining 50% VRS based on the enhanced VRS package announced by the Union Government for other public sector companies and with interest on delayed payment of gratuity.
- The Government must undertake time bound studies to explore possibilities of promoting suitable labour intensive industries in KGF to rehabilitate the miners and their dependent family members. Because there is a critical need for economic regeneration of KGF by promoting KGF as an Industrial Township.
- The Government must provide space for general public, civil society organizations and other social institutions to put forth their views and aspirations as to what kind of developmental activities needed for the economic regeneration of KGF.
- The Government must protect common property resources in KGF and desist from privatizing BGML land to discourage land sharks, dubious and unscrupulous real estate double dealers.
- The government must make it functioning effective by implementing programmes and schemes to promote gender equity by introducing job oriented, income generation activities for the women folks of mine workers.
- Housing forms an indispensable part of ensuring human dignity. Housing is essential for normal healthy living. There is urgent need to ensure housing rights of people living in the mining quarters/hutments for several generations. As a rehabilitation measure the Government must allot existing BGML houses to the miners/ex-miners and regularization of houses in the mining area for occupants who were also descendents of long-gone mine workers.
- There needs to be an overall orientation that the new mining operations must not dislocate the people of KGF.
- The Government needs to lay more stress on preventing any economic activity, mining or other industries which promote environmental pollution. Thus we are concerned that mining activity or any other economic activity in KGF shouldbe Eco-friendly without causing harm to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
- The state Government must increase social spending so that quality changes can be made in health delivery system particularly in KGF Government hospital by appointing adequate doctors, nurses and proper provision of medicine, clean and nutritious food to the patients.
- It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure basic amenities such as provision of safe drinking water, clearance of garbage, safe and durable roads etc., in and around KGF.
The seminar was organized by J. Backianathan, A. James Paul, R. Sheela Moses, J. Kavi Arasan, S.Stanley, Jessy Rani, Ramesh Babu, T. Rajamani – the core committee members of Peoples Movement for KGFDevelopment. Eminent social leaders and trade union leaders from Bangalore attended the seminar and made their valuable contributions to the deliberations.
Date : 10th July 2014