To put an end to the labour and environmental exploitation in the mining sector, Rana Sengupta is mass mobilising mine workers to become mine owners for the first time in India. He creates innovative systems that organize them into cooperatives and enable them to bid for their own contracts, negotiate competitive prices, share profits and advocate for better wages.
In 2012, Rana successfully advocated for an amendment of the Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1986 (MMCR) in the State of Rajasthan to mandate all mines and quarries within a stipulated radius to form a cluster and register as a cooperative. The Cooperatives are required to develop an environment management plan and secure the labour working in the cluster. This resulted in the formation of 11 cooperatives, out of which three were helped by Rana’s organisation, MLPC in getting mining leases. He is also educating them to reflect on their roles as owners, workers and villagers before taking three-dimensional, informed decisions. This way he is creating a judicious, responsible and sustainable system in the mining sector. With over 125000 workers in the cooperative, they have also revised wages and improved working conditions in the area.
To improve working conditions and labour rights, Rana lobbied for changes in various Acts focussing on preferential rights for mining, compensations under occupational diseases, and facilities for mine workers. As a result, the Rajasthan State Government amended the MMCR and reserved 10% of mining allocation and quarry licenses to societies of unemployed youth (Cooperatives) and 35% for widows of mine workers. He has played a critical role in strengthening and extending the Government medical support and compensation system for workers suffering from occupational diseases. As a result, the Pneumoconiosis Medical Board in Jaipur has now been extended to 5 more centres across Rajasthan.
Rana continues to work in Rajasthan around other Acts and funds relevant to the mine workers. At the national level, he is working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Mining department to change how mine workers are accounted ensuring they get identity cards, registration numbers and can finally avail benefits from various schemes. He plans to set up a mine workers welfare board, a national mine accident helpline, and create a national directory of mine workers.
Note: This was updated in March, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile