Thousands of Workers fear job loss as new players enter Odisha Mining sector

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Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha government is elated over the success of the mining auction carried out in February, one question has remained unanswered – the fate of the thousands of workers employed in these mines.

The Odisha government, in February, concluded the auction process of 19 working mines, which witnessed participation of several big names in the Indian metal industry. Out of the 19 mines, as many as 17 mines have been bagged by new leaser-holders including big names like JSW Steel and Arcelor-Mittal and only two leaseholders have managed to retain their mines.

As per one estimate, more than one lakh direct and indirect workers are employed at the 19 mines. The 10 mines auctioned in Joda Mining circle, employs around 50 thousand direct and indirect workers. So the question is, will the new players retain the old workers in these mines?

Since the companies have won the mines with heavy premiums, they will go for cost-cutting by minimizing the workforce. Big companies like JSW, Arcelor-Mittal are most likely to use the latest mining technology in their mines, which would minimize their manpower requirement. Also, they may replace a portion of the existing workforce employed at the mines with their own workers.

It is feared that several thousand workers are likely to lose their employment and livelihood, which will further aggravate Odisha’s already stressed un-employment issue.

Salil Kumar Behera, the Joint Director of mines in the Joda mining circle has also admitted that there has been no order from the government to re-employ the workers.

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