May 27, 2011

Cyclonomics of Coal Transportation

These are some images of the foot-soldiers of what is described as the "coal mafia" - very common on the Ramgarh-Hazaribagh-Ranchi highway. What they do is "illegal" (though I am not sure if they are aware of this), but this journey of some 50-100kms over the ghati serves a critical purpose in their lives.

As this study on Coal distribution network through bicycles in eastern India notes:

"From a financial point of view, a local, better-off villager finds the investment (~US$400) to cut the entrance-way down to the level of the coal seam. Then, contractors from the village cut the coal and carry it out to the surface. The bojharis buy coal from the cutter (who gets about ~US$3 per day) and then sells it to the cycle wallahs for about US$1 per 150–200 kg (a cycle load). They, in turn, retail their load for about ~US$3. The mine 'financier' receives about US$3 per day, which is a reasonably good return on his investment. The extra money that a family may get from 'coal' is about the same that they get from traditional agriculture but provides a critical extra amount of money that might, for example, enable them to send their children to school."

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