People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 07

February 13, 2011



Convention Demands Kolar Mines Reopening




THE erstwhile workers of the Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML) and the people of Kolar district in Karnataka are preparing to launch another round of battle for a revival of the historic Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), the operations of which were terminated a decade ago. A convention organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in Kolar on February 2, 2011 set the tone for the struggle, forming the “Save BGML Struggle Committee.” The sufferings of the people of the region are likely to reverberate in the parliament as well, with the CPI(M) deciding to back the cause of the miners and their families.


In his inaugural address at the convention, Sitaram Yechury, member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP, announced that the CPI(M), along with other Left parties, would raise the issue in the forthcoming budget session of parliament.


The CPI(M) would fight tooth and nail any attempts by the government to privatise the public sector Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML), Yechury warned. He said even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has acknowledged the illegal siphoning of assets belonging to the BGML. Citing the CAG report, the CPI(M) leader said that assets worth Rs 45 crore worth of the company were siphoned off in this manner.


He held the policies of privatisation and liberalisation of both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party regimes responsible for the closure of mining activities in Kolar. Such policies are spelling death to the public sector undertakings which were running under profits, Yechury said. Mining operations will provide jobs to the people which in turn help achieve development of the region, he noted.


“I will personally take up the issue in the Rajya Sabha,” Yechury announced amid thunderous applause from the audience, and urged upon the former workers and people of the region to launch powerful struggles for the revival.


Yechury said the centre should come forward and take necessary steps to implement a land mark judgement of the Karnataka High Court which directed resumption of mining operations in KGF. The court, in a judgement delivered in 2010, was critical of the government’s move to hand over the mines to the company of foreign origin.


It is to be noted that a deposit of gold worth more than 4000 crore rupees was available in the tailings or cyanide mounds which formed in the process of extracting gold from the ore alone, and it requires an investment of Rs 400 crore. Besides this, abundant gold ore has been identified by the experts in the 90 km stretch from Chigaragunta to Srinivaspur where mining operations could be taken up for about one century. The rate of the yellow metal in the international market has gone up three times higher than it was prevailing at the time of the KGF closure. Loss and non-viability due to low rate of gold was also attributed as one of the reasons for the closure. But the High Court took the present gold rate into consideration while delivering its judgement.


Addressing the gathering, CITU state president V J K Nair criticised the government for misleading the people over the gold ore deposit in the region. Jobs to 10,000 to 15,000 people could be provided within next five years alone once the defunct mining operations are resumed, he said.


Former MLA G V Sriram Reddy criticised the Congress party in general and Kolar MP and the minister of state for railways, K H Muniyappa, in particular for not coming forward to wipe out the tears of miners and their family members. “Mr Muniyappa is now enacting a drama by presenting a memorandum to the Union Minister for Mines to appealing to resume mines now,” Sriram Reddy said. “Where was all these years Mr Muniyappa who is representing the constituency for last twenty five years,” he questioned.


CITU leader G Arjunan and CPI(M) state secretariat member G C Bayya Reddy also spoke. CITU district president Gandhinagar Narayanaswamy presided over the convention.


The convention decided to collect signatures and present it with a memorandum to the centre during the a Parliament March on February 23.


The gathering also urged the state BJP government to put pressure on the centre in this regard.


Earlier, it may be noted, a number of stirs including a CPI(M) sponsored Kolar bandh were conducted in the district demanding revival of the KGF mines in the larger interests of the people of this region.