The coal fields of Jharia could easily be mistaken for an uninhabitable alien planet. But we are soon corrected by the sight of men, women and children working in what is one of the largest coal fields in India. The Jharia mines, in the state of Jharkhand are notorious for the harsh working conditions that take a toll on the environment and human health, something that had led a famous political leader Brinda Karat claim that the Jharia township is on the brink of an ecological and human disaster
Isabell Zipfel is a photographer who has travelled through Jharia and has captured some powerful images that tell the story of the people and their lives. Jharia, even to this day, continues to have underground fires that releases obnoxious gases into the atmosphere and causes buildings to crumble and collapse. Most of it is a result of illegal mining by Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) that ignores all the safety precautions and jeopardizes lives of thousands of residents. Isabell’s striking images can be found on her blog Fire on earth
For India, development is critical in uplifting its people from poverty. But with a national leadership that is stuck on achieving a high GDP growth at all costs, human and environmental safeguards are constantly ignored. Moving away from a coal driven growth is not just a moral necessity but it is also beginning to make economic sense to stop relying on this dirty fossil fuel and shift to clean renewable energy. In India, 350 along with various organizations are following this issue closely and will continue to push the Govt. for a much needed energy revolution. (Photo credit: Isabell Zipfel)