People's Democracy

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


No. 12

March 24, 2013




‘Reopen Gold Mines, Pay the Workers’


A GROUP of CPI(M) and CITU leaders from Karnataka met the prime minister of India on March 12, 2013, and submitted to him a petition urging the government of India to reopen the Bharath Gold Mines Limited (BGML) in the Kolar gold fields (KGF), as ordered by a division bench of the High Court of Karnataka on February 1, 2010. The delegation was led by Basudeb Acharia, leader of the CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha.


The petition noted that even three years after Justice Sylendra Kumar delivered his judgement in this regard, the government of India had not taken steps to comply with the judgement which was final. No appeal was filed in time by any one. It was only in the year 2012 that some interested groups, acting in the name of trade unions, filed special leave applications opposing the judgement in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not yet heard these special leave applications but the government of India has been only encouraging these groups which are working to help a foreign company to get gold worth Rs 7800 crore lying in the tailings as also over 2000 acres of lands and infrastructure at the KGF. The Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU) has been opposing these groups who derive support from the local MP and a minister of state.


The petition, which was prepared by the CITU state president V J K Nair who is also president of Bharath Gold Mines Employees’ Union, detailed the circumstances and contained some proposals for the BGML’s revival.


The following are some salient proposals contained in the petition:


(1) The government of India must take steps to implement the said decision of the High Court of Karnataka instead of joining hands with the people who want to perpetrate the crime of looting the national wealth. The government of India must also withdraw the special leave petition it has filed in the Supreme Court in the BGML case.


(2) The government of India must constitute a committee of experts, including the representatives of the CITU union, and ask it to make proposals for rehabilitation of the closed gold mines in the Kolar gold fields.


(3) As an interim measure, the petition urged the government of India to recognise that the closure of these mines by the erstwhile NDA government in the year 2001 was wrong, and thus accept that the company called the Bharath Gold Mines Limited has not been wound up. Also, the government of India must therefore pay the workmen the arrears of wages for the last ten years after deducting the STBP benefits received by them, and that it has to continue to pay wages till the mines are reopened.


(4) The government must also order the company to rebuild the roads, provide sanitation in the township and thus provide relief to over 4000 families still living in the mining township.


The prime minister discussed the issue in detail with the delegation and agreed to consider the demands favourably.


The CPI(M)-CITU team was hopeful that there would be a turn-around in the history of the Kolar gold fields once the government of India decides to go ahead with implementation of the orders of High Court of Karnataka.