India’s Ministry of Labour & Employment is reportedly set to bring new changes that will now allow women to work in underground coal mines during day time.
Existing rules in the country bar women from working in underground mines. The new changes are aimed at introducing gender equity and creating new job opportunities for women.
The proposed amendment will also allow women to work in open cast mines around the clock for the first time. At present, women are permitted to work in open cast mines for fixed hours during the day. If the changes are implemented, they can work in any shift in open cast mine at any time of the day.
A senior official was quoted by PTI as saying: “The ministry has decided to extend the timing of women workers in coal mines initially and would be extended in other such mining sectors on the basis of the initiative. A notification in the regard has already been sent for publication and it would be enforced in next couple of days.
“At present the strength of Coal India is around three lakh, of which women strength ranges from 15-20%. The relaxed timing for women in open cast mining operation and permission to enter underground coal mines would make them eligible for more jobs available in the public as well as private sector as there are some captive coal mines also.”
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The official added that the new rules require the consent of at least three women for working in an underground coal mine.
According to the official, only some women officials are currently authorised to enter an underground mine for inspection and other purposes.
Talking to the news agency, a coal company official stated that the role of women in coal mining in the country is generally restricted to performing supportive jobs such as working in workshops and drilling holes for blasting.
The official further noted that women workers are mainly those who received jobs either on compassionate ground or as compensation in exchange for their land.