Retired Coal Miners With Worn Out Light Bulbs

These 'Lamps of the Nation' are now starving for a healthy and dignified life after retirement, opines Dandamraj Ramchander Rao, Retired Deputy Superintendent, SCCL


Knowing that there is danger lurking at every step and with limited oxygen supply the coal employees work at a depth of one kilometer for the well-being of the nation. They sacrifice the blood and sweat for extracting the coal and have earned the title of black suns. These ‘Lamps of the Nation’ are now starving for a healthy and dignified life after retirement. Putting their lives at stake, the coal employees are striving hard for achieving the coal extraction targets and are realising tremendous profits thereby contributing to economic development.

Contributory Coal Mines Pension Scheme was started in 1998. Not even once pension was revised in the last 25 years. Petitions regarding pension enhancement were submitted to the President, Prime Minister, Coal Minister, and to more than hundred parliamentarians but no concrete action has been initiated so far. The management of coal companies have not paid any attention to the pleas of Union leaders of various political parties. As the retired employees are in large number, the authorities are threatening that the existing Pensions may also be halted due to lack of pension funds. The founding fathers of the Indian constitution have provisioned for amending the constitution as per the current needs of the People. A similar method should be conceptualized to amend the CMPS 1998 scheme. Just like a new parliament building was built with new advanced technology in place of the building built by the British, it is essential to replace the old CMPS scheme and formulate a new policy accordingly.

Crores of rupees are being spent on laying foundation stones, for the inaugural ceremonies and for organising public meetings. Due to lack of funds in the country, the Government is hinting at reduced expenditure from its exchequer. At the same time salaries of the public representatives are being revised from time to time.

As part of modernization and computerization, state of the art machines are being introduced in the mines to ensure safety and security and also to catch up with the market competition, but the pension rate once fixed can never be changed for the lifetime.

There seems to be no shortage of funds in any sector in the country but there dearth of funds for revising the pension of coal mine workers. We earnestly request all sections of the society to discuss the Minimum Pension Scheme of Retired Coal Employees and modify it accordingly to offset the inflation and to provide unlimited medical facilities to enable us to meet any unforeseen circumstances.

Views expressed here are those of Dandamraj Ramchander Rao, Retired Deputy Superintendent, Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL)

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