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Monday, October 29, 2018

Travel Surprise: A Fridge in a Mine

Jadugora (Jaduguda), Jharkhand, India, 2006: Name a mining company in the world and you are likely to find its presence directly or through a local partner in the 32Km stretch between Jamshedpur and Jadugora. The area is so rich in minerals that till a couple of decades ago, people with small baskets would sift through and strain the waters of the Subarnarekha river to find gold. We were on our way to see a mine and after the requisite permissions Uranium Corporation of India allowed us a visit. My idea of mines was primitive - dirty places, deep down, miners with lights, crawling and digging - so it came as a surprise when the official summoned a vehicle to drive us into the mine. At some point after 30 metres down under, I thought we might get into some kind of a lift to give us a 'feel' of going down somewhere, but, no, we drove all the way down to 100-odd metres to a spot marked 'x'. On the opposite wall was a refrigerator. A man in a helmet sipped a Coke next to it. The last place in the world I thought I'd see a fridge. Later, when we were back on the surface and I told the official that I didn't expect the mine to be so clean. He laughed, "This is uranium, not coal."

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