KGF, once a ‘Little England’, lacks even basic facilities

KGF, which is some 30 km from the district headquarters Kolar, has no proper public bus connectivity.

Published: 02nd May 2022 04:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd May 2022 12:02 PM   |  A+A-

The dilapidated house of a labourer who used to work with the BGML. ( Photo | Shriram BN, EPS)

The dilapidated house of a labourer who used to work with the BGML. ( Photo | Shriram BN, EPS)

Express News Service

KGF/KOLAR:  During the time of the British, Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) had everything that a developed town could dream of. Other than the best basic amenities, it had sprawling bungalows, sports clubs, clubhouses, gymkhanas and best educational institutions. Known as “Little England”, KGF is just a mere shadow of its original self now. 

KGF, which is some 30 km from the district headquarters Kolar, has no proper public bus connectivity. There is a small railway station nearby, but no last-mile connectivity. Albert, who used to work as a timberman at Bharat Gold Mines Ltd and continues to live at KGF, says they do not have government buses running to the town.

A labourer’s house with a
sheet roof in KGF | Shriram BN

“We have to take autorickshaws to the nearest bus stand at Robertsonpet, 8 km away. We spend Rs 60 on autos. It would have cost us less if buses were coming to the town.” The frequency of trains to Bengaluru is good. “But we cannot depend on trains all the time,” he said.

Not just connectivity, water facilities too are poor. Houses here get piped water, but it is hard and not suitable for drinking or cooking. Drinking water is supplied by private tankers, which charge them Rs 10 for three pots. “We have to spend at least Rs 20-30 a day on drinking water.

This works out to Rs 600-700 per day, which is a big amount for us,” he explained. If they miss the supplies from the tanker, they have to go all the way to Banagiri village, which is 8 km away, for water. The reverse osmosis (RO) plant in the town has not been working for a few months now. 

Thousands of houses in dilapidated condition near defunct gold mines

The town has thousands of small houses near the defunct gold mines that were built for labourers. Several families continue to stay in these poorly built houses that have only sheet roofs and none have concrete ceilings. Residents suffer during monsoon as well as summer.

Manjula, whose late husband Augustine used to work at BGML, said they stay here as they have nowhere else to go. “When it rains, it pours inside. During summer, it is extremely hot because of the sheet roof,” she said. When the gold mines were running, KGF used to get power from the Shivasamudra station, which when built in 1902 was the first power generation unit in Asia.

But today, residents face frequent power cuts. Bharat Gold Mines Limited had 3,500 employees when it was shut in 2001. Some of them and their families continue to live in the town. They feel that if the basic amenities improve, KGF will get some of its lost glory



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