Women have been allowed to work in underground mines, and would be deployed in open cast mines during night hours also, as part of the government’s efforts to create more employment opportunities for them.
The labour ministry has issued new rules permitting women to work in opencast mines during 7 pm to 6 am.
Earlier, employment of women in underground, opencast mines were restricted under Mines Act, 1952.
“The central government hereby exempts the women employed in any mine above ground and in any mine below ground from the provisions of section 46 of the Mines Act, 1952,” a labour ministry statement said.
According to the statement, the owner of a mine may deploy women between 7 pm and 6 am in any mine above ground.
In the case of underground mines, women can be deployed between 7 pm and 6 am in technical, supervisory and managerial work where continuous presence may not be required.
Such deployments shall be made after obtaining a written consent of the woman and she shall be provided with adequate facilities and safeguards regarding occupational safety, security and health.
Also, the deployment shall be subject to the framing and implementation of Standard Operating Procedures on the basis of the guidelines issued by Chief Inspector of Mines from time to time, it said.
It also said the deployment of women shall be in a group of not less than three in a shift.
The new rules came as several women employee groups, mining companies and students made various representations to the government that women should be provided equal employment opportunity for working in mines.