With curb on illegal mining, out-of-job miners in West Bengal mull NOTA

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Asansol | Published: April 28, 2019 5:30:06 PM

Mining, both legal and illegal, is common in the Ranigunj-Asansol coal belt in West Bengal and in many cases, the coal mafia engage poor people in illegal work for a low wage.

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With a halt on illegal mining since the elections were announced, miners who work in hundreds of these high-risk narrow pits to dig out coal for a living have been jobless and say they will opt for NOTA when they go to vote on Monday as a mark of protest.

Mining, both legal and illegal, is common in the Ranigunj-Asansol coal belt in West Bengal and in many cases, the coal mafia engage poor people in illegal work for a low wage.

But since the notification of elections and seizures taking place to curb illegal election funding, coal mafia operating in the areas have stopped operations throwing more than hundreds of these miners commonly known as “rat-hole miners” out of livelihood.

The story is more or less same in more than 3,500 illegal coal pits operating in the area which have either closed down due to excessive vigil or have slowed down the operations.

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The out-of-job miners have decided to opt for NOTA as a mark of protest.

Sitting MP Babul Supriyo is pitted against Moon Moon Sen of the TMC in the Monday’s elections for the Asansol Lok Sabha seat.
According to officials of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), illegal mining is currently under check and has slowed down in the election season.

“Whenever we get any information, we are taking action,” an ECL official told PTI.
According to sources, in about 3,500 illegal coal mines in Asansol-Raniganj area, at least 35,000 people are directly employed, while another 40,000 get indirect employment.

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