KGF: Collecting Dues (an interview with management)
Director: Janaki Nair; Cinematographer: R V Ramani
Duration: 00:17:30; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 39.400; Saturation: 0.093; Lightness: 0.316; Volume: 0.077; Cuts per Minute: 46.190; Words per Minute: 52.299
Summary: "If you count the cash, the men outside will see this and think 'Oh, look at the BGML men, they are getting this much money' (laughter) "
In a slightly hostile interview, the filmmaker Janaki Nair interrogates one of the management officials in BGML to inquire about what the government wants to do with the company and its imminent closure in Kolar. He says that a 'tailing treatment plant' will be opened which should be very profitable. This interview is preceded by a 9 minute segment in the beginning of the video, of the workers collecting their dues from BGML.
Kolar Gold Field, Kolar District, Karnataka
Excerpt from Janaki Nair's 'Historian as Filmmaker: Slow pan to the present':
"By 1997 KGF miners were fighting for survival,with barely a few months left for them to decide between a Voluntary Retirement Scheme and the uncertainties of possible privatization or even closure. An archival familiarity with the working-class history of the area proved to be not just a limitation, but a positive hindrance to the making of the film. Some of the 5,000 workers still on the mines in late 1997 shared neither interest nor patience for reminiscing about the past. Even retired miners were depressed by the thought of closure, the end of a life that four generations of miners had nurtured in this area. Workers were hard-pressed to decide between accepting a 'golden handshake' or being 'mined out' as their forebears had been when they were suspected of political misdemeanours. The retired workers despaired over the growing levels of insecurity and criminality, and were dismayed by falling standards and lack of commitment on the part of workers and management alike.
Nostalgia, such as existed, was for the time when John Taylor and Sons owned the mines, when much gold was discovered and mined, and jobs were there for the asking. There was also a longing for the grand old days of committed and effective trade unionists such as V. Govindan and K. S. Vasan, active in the 1940s and 1950s, and remembered as fiercely dedicated to workers' rights. Yet the memory of work on the mines, so richly documented in the Annual Reports of the Chief Inspector or Mines in all their chilling details (the extraordinary depths, the high temperatures, the shadow of death from accidents, rockfalls and silicosis), was transformed by the threat of closure into 'memories of better days', when stern but incorruptible European masters ran the mines. The privations of the past were preferable to no work at all and the prospect of long days of enforced leisure were far from enticing. Memories of arduous labour at depths of 13,000 feet were recalled with pride, the valour of the workers in the face of rockfalls extolled. "
(Process of workers collecting their salaries)
(Bits of conversation)
Turn the note this way! Look, his hand is black (laughter)...
Put the signature here.
Don't worry, noone at home will scold you if you get caught on camera...
Get your face ready...
If you count the cash, the men outside will see this and think "Oh, look at the BGML men, they are getting this much money" (laughter)
I don't want to be in any controversy. There are certain groups who are taking up the cause of this company without realising the problems.
J. Nair: Well i'm not from any of these groups, so...
J. Nair: Just four or five questions. are you ready?
J. Nair: Let us start with the most immediate situation. You've already announced that there are plans for a joint venture. Can you give us some details about this?
See, this company was declared sick in 1992, and was referred to BIFR. BIFR appointed ICICI as the operating agency. They have submitted the rehablitation package which was costing almost about 200 crores. So Govt of India, after going through the rehabiliation package, have rejected the rehab package basically because they don't want to pump in 200 crores, which is required to rehabilitate this company. Our work is to explore the possibility of rehabitliating this company through a joint venture route, and they have set up a committee and the process to search for a joint venture partner is on.
J. Nair: So you will have to advertise for a partner?
We hav already advertised in the newspaper, Indian as well as foreign, to get responses from the various bidders.
J. Nair: I haven't seen the advertisement, can you tell us what is actually being offered?
We are searchng for a co-promoter, basically the co-promoter will be participating in the equity holding of the company.
J. Nair: Ya, but if the mines is in crisis, as you've been saying it's been sick since '92, and the ... ore is obviously ...
It is sick from 1972.
J. Nair: So then what would the attraction be for any company to take this up?
See, as i told you, we require funds to set up a tailing treatment plant, and that is a profitable venture. We have got a techno-economic feasabilitiy report prepared by an Australian company. That itself requires almost about 75 crores. Also, for development of (Chidargunta?) mines we require some money. All put together, we'll be requiring 120 to 130 crores, plus another 60-70 crores required for rationalisation of manpower.
J. Nair: I see. And what does that imply, rationalisation of manpower?
Govt of india has got a scheme, they fund the rationalisation of manpower through National Renewal Fund, so they give the money under that.
J. Nair: This is for...?
This is just like the golden handshake. They give some extra money, for every year of servce they give almost 45 days' salary to the employees.
J. Nair: So this is the VRS scheme?
This is VRS scheme, yes.
J. Nair: I understand that the mines cannot actually close down, given the kind of roles there are, is this true?
How do you say that? If the company is incurring losses right through, how is it possible to run it indefinitely?
J. Nair: So this will actually be a unique case then, a first case of a public sector company...?
No, so many public sector companies are with BIFR, because after amendment of SICA (Sick Industrial Companies Act) in 1985 where they brought the public sector also under its purview, the Govt. intentions are very clear. If public sectors are sick, if they cannot be rehabilitated, they have to be closed down.
J. Nair: So what would you say is the Unique Selling Point of this mine and this area? If you had to attract someone to be a part of this, what would be the selling point? See, you're not going to do any mining at all, it's only going to be tailings treatment...
No, I never said that. I said tailing treatment plant is definitely a very profitable venture, all over the world they are doing it. Also, depending upong the perception of the private co-promoter, they will be deciding which of the three mines they can run. So they may take up a decision, after rationalisation of manpower and maybe improvement in technology, they may take up a decision to run one or two mines more.
J. Nair: How long would any proposal to treat the tailings last? It's also a finite resource.
We have got 33 million tonnes of tailing, and 3 million tonnes per annum we can treat, so it will last about ten years.
J. Nair: So it is a limited proposition that you have?
Sure, sure. Also, with the latest technology available, in our leasehold area itself the foreign investors may further explore the possibility of finding some more ore reserves.
J. Nair: In the mid-1980s there was a report produced by one mr. chari which made several proposals in order not to close down these mines. What was the fate of that report?
I don't know if you've gone through that report fully, because that report never suggested not to close down the mine, it has been very clearly indicated in the report that the mnes have to close down one day or the other.
J. Nair: It says that it can be turned around into a profitable..as i recall, one of the major..
It was not like that. See we should read the report in totality, not in isolation. The report clearly indicates, and based on that only the Govt has decided to phase out this company...