Women Break Stereotypes, Run Heavy Machines In Odisha’s JSW Mines

Bhubaneswar: It was never heard before, but now women are operating Heavy Earth Moving Machinery (HEMM) at JSW iron ore mines in Odisha’s Joda-Koida region.

According to JSW Steel (Odisha mines division), 9 female HEMM operators are currently placed at Jajang mine in Keonjhar, while 32 others are undergoing training.

“They have fully proved themselves, deploying their physical abilities and mental fortitude in their performance. These candidates underwent intensive training to hone their skills as HEMM operators. Post training, these women are deployed as assistant operators to operate dumper, dozer, shovel and drill machines,” a company official said.

“We never rode a motorcycle but are now operating HEMM,” says Santi Lakra, pointing out how women are demolishing patriarchal dominance in mining and performing tasks requiring endurance and mental agility.

The 37-year-old Santi feels entering a male-dominated sector and excelling has redefined her self-worth.

“When I got a chance to work here, I went through four-wheeler training to use the steering. Later, simulator orientation was very helpful. I have been riding dumpers from April 2022 in JSW Jajang Mine,” she says proudly.

Monika Devi, another operator, learned about operating different types of machines through field work and simulators.

“I have the endurance to go through physical exertion to learn things. The training period was fascinating as we were learning things from level zero,” she says.

She is all praise for the JSW management for their support during training period.

“The trainers and existing operators are with us at every step and consistently motivate us to operate the machines ourselves so that we rise above any fear that we may have. We are now much more confident,” she adds.

Sharing her experience, operator Salu Ekka says operating machines in mines was a challenging task.

“I had to venture underground often. Operating heavy machinery was difficult as well. However, the fear phased out and I eventually gained confidence with immense support from the trainers and other staff,” she says.

JSW Steel Odisha mining division currently has 47 female employees, of whom 9 are already operating HEMM and 32 trainees.

Notably, 27 women have been recruited from Odisha and the company is expected to hire more from the region.

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