KGF: Interview about conditions of mining in Kolar (contd)
Director: Janaki Nair; Cinematographer: R V Ramani
Duration: 00:36:46; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 20.071; Saturation: 0.062; Lightness: 0.357; Cuts per Minute: 0.625; Words per Minute: 61.662
Summary: In this video, the interview from KGF5 continues with the interviewee and his wife, Amular Mary. This is followed by the rendition of two more songs about life in Kolar, the struggles of miners and their feelings and thoughts. After this, a man is interviewed about the blasting exercises in the mine, the use of explosives, the cleaning up of the field and remnants of gelatin in the blast holes, the dangers faced by those who didn't take all the precautions. The man gives exhaustive details of the entire process of cleaning up after an explosion properly so as to not be inadvertently in the line of misfires, post the blasts. It also gives a sense not merely of the dangers faced, but also the prudence and toil in the everyday life of the miner and labourer in Kolar.
Kolar Gold Field, Kolar District, Karnataka
One of the biggest mistakes is made by those at the machine point. They give you a dustup(?) . A drum is placed, and a pipe is placed and this is placed in the holes. When the the machine is run, and the steam if released, the dust is sucked into the drum. The men sometimes just run the machine. You should not run the machine without adding water. When they run the machine with water it doesn't run properly, and they have to oil it and clean it often. So they run it without water. They then develop coughs and say "Run the water, dai kamnaati, run the water". I'm reporting it as they do it, don't mind.
"Who's coming?" "It's just the manager" is the reaction the Indian manager gets. If it's the European, it's "Dorai, the water hasn't been put in the machine", and he responds with "Who is the maistry? Bugger!" and they immediately fit it. Now our agents (mildly) say "Govinda, run the machine with water, pa", and now even the blood is clogged with dust. Because of the cough caused by the dust, it hardens in the throat, and if you blow your nose there are lumps of dust that come out.
It's like an arrow, it goes in widening, and it goes and sits on the heart, and that's the silicosis disease. Once it sits there it pricks the heart, this becomes a wound and produces phlegm. This phlegm is what makes me suffer, even if so many medicines go in (last August on this same date I was in the hospital, my whole family was on death watch).
J. Nair: Don't your children work here now?
I told them, whatever you do, don't work in the underground. As long as I'm alive I will not send any of you there. I made two children study, and married off two female children. After struggling and working like this, what rewards do I get from this country? .... what do we have? Not even soil. In our country, our government, our free land, they say 1000 crores, 100 crores, 300 crores, what all I hear on TV. All these employers and ministers are eating (money), these poor people have nothing.
J. Nair: What are your plans now? They say the mines are going to close.
The mines can be run for another fifty years. The reason for closure is officers without the ability to run things. There's a lot of gold. If I say, collect the road mud and extract the gold, they conduct surveys to discover reefs below, and tar over the places where there's gold. Suppose there's gold at this level, they tar this over. What's the use? And what do they say in the high places? If we take out one rupee worth of gold, it costs us ten rupees, close it.
The men who have the ability, the experience to do this, are there. There are agents. You know the manager Nataraj who came from Madras. If a job is to be done, the employers and the workers need to be united, only then the production will grow. If you're saying "You" "Me", then there won't be production, everything will be closed, there will be ruin. Anyday, the workers are the country's backbone. Without this backbone, we cannot sit, where can we sit? We need to hunch over. They are breaking this backbone now.
The gold will last fifty years, there are officers with a lot of experience, they can come and run the mine, and we don't even need to go very deep, there's gold in the top section itself. But the only thing is that this is a camp - the white man named this camp because we set up tents wherever there is gold. Because it's a camp these houses were built here, 8 feet thatti houses. I made this a little bigger, in the 8 feet house so many cannot stand. I never went into the kitchen when it was a thatti house (tilts his head) We experienced all this.
The gold can be mined for another 100 years, we need good officers, people who will work like the old officers did, which they don't do nowadays. For example, the miners now, when given orders to open a gate, say, "Go open it yourself...". They threaten employers with knives. This is the situation with today's miners, it's not right, the youths today can't run this properly, cannot work like we used to. In this situation what can we do?
J. Nair: We now want to talk to your wife for a minute, ask her how she got married and came here.
Him: Ei Amala, this lady wants to talk to you.
Amalur Mary: What can I say? I don't know...
We just want to ask her a few questions, call her.
Interview with wife, named Amalur Mary
J. Nair: Come come. I want to ask you about things you know about.
I don't know, missy. He only has to talk.
J. Nair: When did you get married? Where are you from?
Bangalore. September 8th I got married.
(Him): She doesn't know the date.
I don't know missy. He only writes down everything.
J. Nair: He does such dangerous work. Even then your family agreed to your marriage?
Back then it wasn't like that, they ...
J. Nair: There is no work for women here, what did you do here?
(Him): No, she means in KGF.
Men should do the work, we women don't work. He brings home the money, and with that I made porridge or food. It was very difficult then.
(Him): She wants you to talk about those difficulties.
... they used to pour stones into the grain, and we had to return it. He used to bring home only 8 rupees salary, I used to adjust with that small sum.
J. Nair: At what age did you get married?
They got me married at 17.
J. Nair: Weren't you scared about coming here?
We were here only.
J: But you said Bangalore...
The wedding happened in Bangalore, in his elder brother's house, but I was born and raised here.
J. Nair: Your father and mother...?
They were here only. Now they've passed away.
J. Nair: Do you know about the mines work?
I don't know much. My elder brother used to do this work, he hurt his arm and he has now taken Service (VRS).
J. Nair: There were airblasts and all...
He used to come and tell me about the terrible airblasts, people used to go and stand there when an airblast took place. They used to send the corpse in a box to each house. 20-25 people. It used to be horrible, the corpses, mostly covered in the box, but sometimes uncovered. We used to see all this. M Block, D Block, all of them...
J. Nair: How did your father die?
I was young when my father died. My mother didn't earn much, ran a fruit shop and took care of us, 6 of us.
J. Nair: You didn't do similar work? Keep a shop?
No. My brother kept a shop and gave me 10 rupees a week, and I used that for my house. It was very difficult after my father died, my mother used to take her wares out in the basket and sell them and come. We were all small children, totally 7 people, my sister was a 5 month old baby when my father died. Then one by one they started working. We grew up with these difficulties, and then got married.
J. Nair: What's your name?
Interior and exterior of Amalur Mary's and Perumal's house
Paintings and photographs in the interior of next interviewee's house.
Don't switch it on right away, let's do a trial. Shall I sing and see? Don't tape now, you can do it next time.
(Song - To be Translated)
(Song - To be Translated)
34 years' service. In that, I've done all kinds of work. If you take the drilling point, the gang workers first need to clear the space, check all the sockets. Because in a place where there's been a blast, there will be socket holes. There will be gelatin medicines, small pieces, after the blast they will be there.
If you don't examine carefully ... the workers, after clearing the place, need to clear the old holes using the steel rod(?), clear the gelatin medicines from the explosives, and fill air (because of high pressure there). After this, the water connection needs to be opened, and you need to wash the place completely to cool it.
After doing this, they will start drilling the holes. If you don't do all this properly, the gelatin medicine leftover from the blast, even if there are small pieces in the old holes, it's enough. As soon as the drilling rods touch these pieces, it will blast directly on the face. This is called misfire.
Why I'm saying this is, sometimes workers also say "Let's drill the holes quickly, blast, and then go home". They then keep the rods in the old holes, the sockets. Because there's already one and a half feet there, on top of this if you drill two feet, it becomes three and a half feet, and the work gets done quickly and you can go home soon. If you misuse it like this, you will first lose your eyes. Your face will go first.
Like this, there have been so many cases in KGF, in the underground, losing eyes in a misfire, the entire face getting ruined. This is the reason for talking about the drilling point. This is machine drilling, the work that drillers do. If they do everything according to rules and regulations, and according to what is there in the law, then there will be safety, no danger.
What they say is, new holes should be drilled one foot away from old ones. The holes might cross inside, if the holes join inside, and if there are medicines inside there's a chance it will burst. So, you should drill one one foot away, this is a rule for the drilling point. Whoever follows this rule, in a dicsiplined way and accordig to regulations, they will be safe and can continue service. If they hurry and misuse it, certain accidents take place.
Next, tramming. In tramming, once the blastmen have drilled the holes, the complete blaster comes. There's a load stick, called the blow load, and he will use sticks to measure the holes and see how many feet deep they are, will see how much gelatin to use, how much packing to do. They will use red soil (sticky soil). Because they use this, the packing will be very strong. After doing this, he will ready the signals, put the danger poles in place at every crossing, to warn people that they should not enter because blasting is taking place.
Two men, the machine maistry and the blaster, and one helper will be sent to all those places where there's a connection, to put signals (like danger flags) in place. They will stand there and not allow anyone to enter. After all this, once the signals have been set up...back then, they used to use fuses to blast, one in each hole. They used to light them in their bare hands, for this they had a stick, the fuse. Lighting this, all the 22 holes (one drive had 22 holes) would be lit, and the blaster would also come away. There's a certain time in which the blast will take place, he will count during this time, "Has the first hole blasted?", and if the number of holes we have lit have blasted, has then everything's OK.
They will release the steam and this will clear the smoke from the place. Only then will they allow people in. Then the mucking, the clearing of the mud, by the tramming gang, will happen, the place will be cleared. The mud will be dumped in the chute.
When the tramming gang then goes in, as per mines regulations, they should have gloves, boots, helmets, lamps, one maistry will go in front, followed by three workers. The maistry will go and warn them not to cross if the vehicle is coming. They will then go and carry out the dumping to fill the chute.
Once the chute is filled and this work is done in the first shift, in the second shift (?)men, road (?)men, will come and send the mud to the surface in cages. It will be dumped on the surface, where a special lorry...30 years ago, there were trams with big wagons like in the railways, electrical trams with route connections to the shafts, near the chutes. These tram would move the wagons, the doors had levers with two men to hold them, these wagons would be filled and the trams would pull them away to the mill. This was tramming.
But even while carrying out the tramming, if they didn't wear boots, the stones that they broke would cut their legs, hurt their arms or even their eyes. The gold dust needs to be broken, and the blast produced big big pieces. So you used big hammers, 12 or 10 pounds. These hammers would be used to break the pieces. ... 9 inches diametre, would go into the holes. If the pieces were too big, they were difficult to take up in the cages, they used to get caught during the dumping. So the rule was to break them. Therefore while breaking them, the gloves, the boots, the helmet, the goggles made our of a wire net (sometimes they gave us celluloid glasses), if we used all of these, the eyes, hands, legs were protected. And then a nose covering for protection against gases. They used all of these 30 years ago, these days they don't use any of these.
J. Nair: Why is that?