An independent legislator in Jharkhand on Saturday sought the support of Maoists for smooth functioning of Latehar district’s Sikani coal mine, which reopens after 26 months.
Speaking at the reopening ceremony of the colliery here in the presence of chief minister Hemant Soren, MLA Videsh Singh from Panki constituency in Palamu district appealed to the “jungle sarkar” (Maoists) to work together with the state government.
“The government, leaders, local public and the jungle sarkar should work together to ensure smooth operations at the mine,” Singh said.
The mine operations were closed since September 2011, after the coal deposits on the land allotted to the colliery were exhausted.
All 24 districts of Jharkhand are affected by Maoist insurgency, with 18 districts being severely hit.
The rebels run parallel governments in a few districts and extort levy up to Rs 200 crore annually from industries, mines, businessmen, traders, and contractors.
Thus, these Left-wing extremist outfits are locally known as ‘jungle sarkar’ (forest government) in Jharkhand and Bihar.
On Saturday, the colliery reopened after the state government transferred 133.75 acres of forest land to it for mining purposes.
“This mine should have resumed operations long ago, but somehow it got delayed. The government is committed to starting operations at all coal mines. The closure of operations at this mine had also put breaks on marriages being solemnised in this region,” said Singh.
He was recently nominated as chairman of the Jharkhand State Mines Development Corporation, which owns the Sikani coal mine in Latehar district.
The chief minister blamed the political instability in Jharkhand for the delay in the reopening of the mine.
“I have witnessed the problems caused by the closure of this coal mine, and had been trying to get it reopened. But it was delayed due to the volatile political situation in the state,” he said.