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

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​Notes from a Coal Site

​Notes from a Coal Site

A richly endowed natural landscape becomes the site of catastrophic exploitation, threatening the very community that it is home to.

While travelling across a mineral-rich district in Odisha earlier, I came across a board titled “MCL Bringing Smile in Every Hut” at the entry point of Mahanadi Coal Field Limited (MCL) at Basundhara site in Sundargarh district. A quick evaluation of the title revealed two important indicators: “smile,” an impact indicator, and “hut,” a status indicator. I wondered: What are the factors that induce a hut to gene­rate a smile in the context of extracting industries? The hut has an interesting relationship with many exogenous indicators, and more importantly, is representative of the “status” of a woman.

Following my sighting of the board, on a visit to the coal site, I searched for that factor which would determine the smiles of the women in these huts. Detailed interviews—more like immersed conversations—with women across different age cohorts, provided a rich opportunity to understand the impact that the opening of a mine has on women, with the abrupt societal changes that come into play. I sought to understand how a richly endowed natural landscape is reduced to a site of catastrophic exploitation of natural resources, becoming a threat to the very community that it has been home to.

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Updated On : 16th May, 2021

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