Salient points of the speech by Shri Nathulal Pandey, General Secretary, Koyla Mazdoor Sabha and President, Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation (HKMF) at the monthly meeting of AIFAP on 7 November 2021
First, I would like to thank AIFAP for the booklet you have released today. I will publish the Hindi AIFAP booklet and try to distribute it whenever I go with the help of my organisation. Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation would distribute it on a national level with the help of our unions and other organisations to spread awareness about harmful effects of privatisation on people.
I agree with the line of the AIFAP booklet that “An attack on one is an attack on all”. This booklet will bring people closer to workers.
Shri SN Pathak ji, President of AIDEF, is present here and he has been fighting for defence workers for long. At this time of the crisis in the defence sector, our union stands with them. Whenever SN Pathak ji requires our support, we will stand with them.
In the coal sector, the government has decided to sell off 160 running mines to the private players within next 2 to 3 years. This is a huge challenge in front of the coal workers today. Till date, only unmined coal blocks were sold to private players like Tatas and Adanis, but now they want to sell 160 running mines to clear the national debt.
I don’t understand why the government wants to sell these mines. There is a clear picture in front of the government that the extraction of coal till date is done by Coal India Limited while the private players who bought coal blocks failed to produce coal and surrendered the blocks back to the government.
Coal extraction is a very difficult job. The conditions of the workers working in these private blocks is very inhuman. These private players are unable to find workers and technicians who are willing to work at lower wages. The planned sale of running mines is not in the interests of the country.
In Mozambique, Africa they are planning to open a mine. CIL money will be invested in Africa, which will benefit the workers and consumers there. I oppose this move on behalf of Hind Mazdoor Sabha.
If privatisation works in the favour of people, then why was there a need to make this a public sector in the first place? These private company never mined the coal properly and after mining they did not take care of the coal and the mine itself. They mined coal and did not care what happened afterwards. When care is not taken, underground fire take place and this is still seen in the eastern belt.
In our country 72% of power is generated from coal. Of this, 80% of coal is supplied by CIL. Further, CIL pays more than Rs 550 crores as royalty of to all states together. It also contributes a significant amount as CSR.
Recently the Government declared that there will be a power shortage because “There is not enough coal”. But how are we to be blamed? Coal workers have worked day and night to supply coal even during pandemic. In the past Indian capitalists preferred to import coal when international price of coal was low, instead of using coal from CIL. So, CIL was left with surplus coal. The problem is the coal goes bad if it is not used soon as it gets oxidised. Now when international price of coal has shot up, the Indian capitalists want coal from CIL. So, the crisis is artificially created.
The coal is obtained from different geographical regions in the country and we need railways and other ways to transport it through the country. The government never invested in this infrastructure. We transport coal with the means of roadways too but it has it owns limitations.
We have 335 coal mines – some are open-cast, some are underground, some are mixed. Of these 160 mines will be sold. They haven’t identified which ones to sell. The Gevra mine is the biggest mine in world. If this is sold, what will be left with SECL and CIL. From this mine, coal is sent to many many parts of India. This and other mines are like a cake and every capitalist will run to take their share of this cake. (I can write an article on this which you can publish.)
Structure of CIL: There are 8 subsidiaries out of which 7 produce coal and one is a non-producing company: ECL – Eastern Coalfield Ltd, BCCL – Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, CCL – Central Coalfields Ltd, NCL – Northern Coalfields Ltd (UP, MP).( Very fertile. Always achieves target before year end.), WCL – Western Coalfields Ltd, SECL – South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (largest in CIL), MCL – Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, Odisha.
This government is very stubborn and it won’t listen to us so long as we fight our individual battles. We all have to come together to show our strength.
Workers from all sectors should unite; there is no time to spare. If we decide a 5–7-day andolan, maybe then Modi ji will understand workers’ strength.