The Central Government on Monday decided to allow women to work in underground coal mines and also do night shifts in open cast or over ground mines, in a bid to bring about greater gender equality and generate more employment opportunities for women.
The government in a notification said it had decided to exempt the women employed in any mine above and mine below ground from the provisions of section 46 of the Mines Act, 1952, which restricts the women from working in mines.
Following the request from women employees and mining companies, the ministry has also decided to extend the timing of women workers in coal mines initially and it would be extended in other such mining sectors on the basis of the initiative.
However, the deployment of women has been subjected to certain rules, which includes providing adequate facilities and safety to them.
The labour ministry has ordered that the deployment of women should be in a group of not less than three in a shift.
In addition, the deployment of women shall be subject to the framing and implementation of Standard Operating Procedures on the basis of the guidelines issued in this regard by the Chief Inspector of Mines from time to time.
Earlier, the Mines Act had restricted the employment of women in underground mines, and also in opencast or above ground workings of the mine during night hours between 7 pm and 6 am.