It was in 1952 that the central government had banned women in underground mines. Sixty-seven years on, on February 4, the central government amended the Act and allowed women in underground mines. It also gave women the option of working night shifts.
SCCL officials say women candidates will be allowed to apply for jobs like general mazdoor, pump operator, conveyor operator, coal cutter, fitter, helper and 52 other designations both in underground and open-cast mines.
Officials told TOI that recruitment will begin in a couple of months and selected candidates will have to undergo rigorous training. “SCCL is expected to release 12 to 13 notifications to fill about 1,000 vacancies, including mining jobs like technicians, electrical fitters, chemists and engineers. The jobs will be open to all, including women,” SCCL director (personnel, administration and welfare) S Chandrasekhar told TOI.
“We are expecting detailed guidelines from the Centre and the joint bipartite committee for the coal industry on the safety and facilities that need to be given to women workers.”
SCCL has 56,282 employees. Of these, 1,362 are women, who have been working as clerks, in hospitals hospitals and as sweepers. The company has 29 underground mines and 19 opencast mines with 47,000 field workers in total.
Officials add that since the mid-1990s, hardly any women have been recruited on the rolls in the company, owned jointly by the state government and the central government. Those who have been recruited are contractual workers, mostly in the canteen and as sweepers and some non-executive posts.
Officials also say that they are worried about the availability of women candidates for certain posts like fitter and operator for which a candidate needs to have an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) certificate. “Not many women candidates are joining ITI or institutes for mining courses,” a general manager of the company said.