Portrait | Nominee

Supratim Bhattacharjee

Kolkata / IN www.supratimbhattacharjee.com

The Curse Of Coal


Coal is perhaps the most important energy resource that provides for the energy consumption in India as well as a larger share of the world. Jharia in Jharkhand is the most significant coal mine producing the largest share of coal in India and also in the whole of south Asia. Since the days it has come into operation, and from the discovery of underground fires (in 1916), this coal mine has seen a number of deaths. It has been rightly referred to as the death field. The poor lots who engage themselves in the mining activities to earn a living are affected the most. The major reasons of death here are underground fire, suspension of poisonous gases in the air, pollution, etc. Diseases with skin and lungs are thus widespread here. Moreover, extreme conditions of poverty, illnesses and higher illiteracy among the people force the villagers to sell their kids to the coal mining mafias.


I was born (in 1983) and brought up in Baruipur some 30 km away from
the city of joy, Kolkata. As a youth, I always felt compassionate for the oppressed. Their hard life, their struggles and their pains left a deep impact on me. I could feel this class was the most ignores, their voices went unheard amidst the hustle-bustle of civilization. I deeply wanted to do something about them, but having not enough resources I had to wait for the right time.

In the meanwhile, I completed my bachelor’s degree from the University of Calcutta and then decided to pursue a career in commercial photography. I got the opportunity to explore the film line working in a film production house as a post-production professional for 5 years. But in these years I never could forget my inner urge to give voice to the voiceless. I started saving for my dream. After I had saved enough (as I felt) I required, I left my growing career in the film production house and started working on my interest.

Right now I am working on the Mica and Tears project. Mica being the most important of minerals is mined in huge amounts to be used as a raw material in the electric and cosmetic industries. When I visited the mining areas I was shocked to find the intense poverty prevailing in the mica belt in a developing country like India. Thus, people here associate themselves with illegal mining to earn their living. Even small children are forced to take to mining in order to support their poverty- stricken families. Their childhood is lost to labour and horrifying accidents in the rat-hole mines.

I have to make frequent travels to different parts of India and Bangladesh for this and several other projects of mine. Soon I plan to expand my work to all the SAARC countries. My projects will always be a representation of the gruesome realities of human life in the South Asian Countries. As I work on them I will try to uphold utmost honesty, maintaining the dignity of the human race.