14 June, 2021

The Golden Ghost

Mysterious infant deaths add to the accursed Kolar landscape

Nilotpal Baruah
The Golden Ghost

The Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) have long been declared a ghost town. Ever since the public sector Bharat Gold Mines Ltd (BGML) shut down operations in 2001, the whole area has worn a deserted look. That haunted aspect is getting more pronounced now with the mysterious and mass death of infants.

According to the birth and death statistics accessed from the local municipal office in Robertsonpet, in 2009 alone, out of the 3,042 children born in KGF, as many as 671 died. Most of them were below one year, and close to 90 per cent were born to Dalit women in the ‘coolie lines’ of the Marikuppam, Champion Reef, Oorigam and Coramandal mining areas. This alarming figure is actually four times the national infant mortality average, which at present is 52 per thousand live births.

The deaths have continued in 2010. The year began with 57 deaths in January, followed by 64 in Februrary while March clocked relatively less deaths at 42. Despite a public hearing organised in May by a local organisation, Samajika Parivarthana...

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