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All-women team to take up works in Jharkhand’s iron mine

Noamundi: Tata Steel’s Noamundi Iron Mine in Jharkhand is set to witness an all-women team taking up drilling, dumper, and shovel operations in all shifts from early next year, a senior official said on Saturday.

Women officers and operators have already been inducted in the Noamundi Iron Mine and it will be the first time in the country that a 30-member team, exclusively comprising women from the rank of officers to operators, will be engaged independently in all the shifts, the official said.

As part of the new initiative, Women at Mines at the Ore, Mines, and Quarry (OMQ) division of the mine in West Singhbhum district, the first batch of 22 operators of heavy earthmoving machinery (HEMM) will start working independently in all the shifts, Atul Kumar Bhatnagar, General Manager, OMQ Division, Tata Steel, told a group of visiting journalists from Jamshedpur.

The objective behind the initiative, termed “Tejaswini 2.0”, was to enhance gender diversity in the workplace, particularly in a difficult sector like mining, Bhatnagar said.

The drive was also a step towards empowering local people, the officer said.

The first batch of 22 matric pass women operators, including Rebati Purty, who was a Mukhiya (village chief) of Jampani village under Noamundi block and mother of two daughters, was selected among 350 applicants after a written test and personal interview.

Almost all the selected candidates live within a radius of 15 km from the mine, he said.

We have taken undertakings from the parents of the women operators before inducting them in the mining operation, an official said.

The programme has been designed to provide technical training to unskilled women workers and enable them to work in core jobs at mines.

The majority of the operators, coming from conservative tribal families, said they had never even driven a scooter but are now confidently operating HEMM.

Initially, we were very scared to take up the job but gradually gained confidence in the course of training and we are now ready to work independently in all shifts, Purty said.

At OMQ Division, heavy earthmoving machines like excavators, shovels, dumpers are being operated by women employees at Noamundi Iron mine under the “Tejaswini 2.0” initiative, Bhatnagar said.

Subsequently, this initiative has also been undertaken in West Bokaro Division .

Tata Steel has set a target of recruiting 20 per cent women employees of the total workforce by 2025.

Claiming that the private steel major always aims at providing more opportunities to women, a company official said Tata Steel had requested the Jharkhand government to issue an order for deploying women in the “B” shift till 10 pm, which was accepted.

Following the order, women employees were deployed in “A” and “B” shifts at the Coke Plant Department and Electrical Repair Shop in Tata Steel Jamshedpur from February 2019, the official said.

Facilities were made available to women workers at the workplace as per all the pre-determined conditions.

The Spare Manufacturing Department has also employed women workers in “A” and “B” shifts since February 2020.

About 90 women employees at Tata Steel Jamshedpur are working in the “B” shift at present. The possibility of employment of women workers in other departments is also being continuously explored.

The Centre in 2019 allowed women to work in mines, both underground and opencast, during the day and night with riders.

The Union Labour Ministry had said written permission from women is a must before employing them and they have to be deployed in a group of not less than three in a shift.

If women are deployed in any mine below ground, the authority can only do so between 6 am and 7 pm in technical, supervisory and managerial work , it said

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