KOLAR: March 1, 2001 was a Black Day in the history of KGF as the then Union government ordered the closure of the world famous Bharath Gold Mines Limited (BGML) without providing any reasons leaving nearly 3,500 workers jobless, besides closing the mining hospital which was one of the biggest hospitals in the south India.
The workers who worked in the BGML were affected with the Silicosis disease.
Some of the workers are still undergoing treatment at their own cost following the closure of the mining hospital.
Later, a number of agitations, bandhs by various political parties and a State-level conference were organised to exert pressure on the Centre to reopen the gold mines.
Even Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to this effect.
But nothing succeeded and the BGML workers were left in the lurch.
The closure of the BGML had a major impact on the development of the KGF city which once called ‘Mini England’.
“The company’s closure brought down the business in KGF.
Earlier, the business at Andersonpet market was good.
But after the BGML’s closure, out of the 630 shops, municipal shops in the Mahatma Gandhi Market and nearly two hundred shops were closed due to lack of business,” said Muniswamy , a former BGML employee.
“We are still hoping that the government will take a positive step to restart the mining operations,” he added.
Mani, another former employee, said, “No doubt there is gold in the mining fields.
If the government revives the BGML, it will be backbone of the country again.” Meanwhile, the leaders of the workers’ unions who are fighting the case in the court, claimed that the reopening of BGML will help both the workers and the country as the gold price has reached its peak in the world market.
“BGML has a long history of exporting gold to other countries and it played a vital role in the development of the nation,” they observed.
No Response from Centre:
The BGML land is vacant to an extent of nearly 12000 acres.
Though the State government and a number of entrepreneurs wrote letters to the BGML to grant the land for starting small scale industries, apparel parks and other enterprises, their applications were said to be rejected by the Union Ministry of Mines and the Centre on the grounds that the BGML matter is still pending before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, sources said they cannot entertain such applications.
There may be hundred and one other things too.
But all that the people of this mining city want is the reopening of the company which once provided work for 40,000 workers.
They want to see their city getting back to old glory.
A large number of BGML workers are affected by the Silicosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silicosis dust (stone dust).
Dr B R Rajendra Kumar, who served as a physician in the defunct Bharath Gold Mines Hospital and presently practising independently at KGF, said the disease is common among the mining employees who worked deep underground to get the golden ore.
It can happen even in stone quarrying zones too, he added.
Speaking about the hospital, Kumar said there were a number of wards in the hospital like TB Ward, Isolation Ward and Maternity Ward.
Edward Ward is considered to be a big ward with fifty bedded facilities, he explained.
“It is unfortunate that the mining workers and their dependents lost the medical facilities following the closure of the mines and I hope that the hospital will be reopened again if BGML is revived,” he felt.