How a mining cooperative changed lives | india | Hindustan Times
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How a mining cooperative changed lives

A cooperative has transformed the lives of many tribes-persons in Rajasthan, bringing them more income and enlightening them about ways of running their business better.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 13:26 IST

A cooperative has transformed the lives of many tribes-persons in Rajasthan, bringing them more income and enlightening them about ways of running their business better.

For years, the Bhil tribal villagers slaved in limestone mines near Jaipur but earned only a pittance. The contractors pocketed the profits, and the Bhils had no idea what to do.

That was until the cooperative was launched, following a workshop organized by a NGO, Mine Labour Protection Campaign, in Jethwai village of Jaisalmer district, around 570 km from Jaipur.

Many of those who attended the workshop are grateful to the group for having changed their lives.

Kana Ram is one such tribal. A member of the Pathar Khan Sramik Theka Sahakari Samiti cooperative, Kana's monthly income has now swelled to Rs 4,000 from a mere Rs 1,500.

"Things have changed... I am much better off," said Kana Ram, the family's sole bread earner.

He has seen many days when he barely earned enough after a hard day's work to feed his eight-member family.

"I now negotiate with customers and suppliers to get the actual market price of the limestone pieces. I have also learnt the intricacies of the limestone quarry business. I can now handle the business independently," Kana said.

"Our present situation is far better. Now there is no one dominating us and we are not slaves to anyone. There are no 'fixed duty hours' or 'fixed incomes'."

Goda Ram, another mineworker, has a similar story to relate.

"I joined the cooperative to lead a decent life and earn reasonably well. Now I have got full freedom. I do my things independently and use my own skills," said Goda.

"I work six to seven hours a day. At the end of the month I earn around Rs 4,000-4,500," he said.

Another mineworker, Chetan Ram, found his life dramatically changed after he joined the cooperative after seeing how Kana's fortunes had bettered.

"When I was working under a mine owner I didn't receive wages on time. Though we worked hard, the mine owner treated us roughly. I saw Kana and how his life has changed. It inspired me to join the cooperative," said Chetan.

"Today I am very happy and satisfied with this cooperative. I have no problem at all, I get my wages on time," said the 21-year-old inhabitant of Jethwai village.