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Edition #246 May 15, 2015
Living in a Paradise?
Photographer: Christoph Grimm
Photo by Christoph Grimm
Living in a Paradise?
With this photo we will
visit India and travel to one of the most remote areas in this country: the far
North East of the country. You have to take dirt roads for quite some distance
and to report to the police when you want to visit Tipong (close to the border
with Mynmar). I did so in 2010.
Why I wanted to go there? Well, in Tipong you can step back in time and see a coal mine right from the start of the industrialization with a narrow gauge line which still uses steam. The whole area is in a wonderful region and time stands still there. People are still living like in the early 1900s. For the Western visitor it is very idyllic and looks like "Living in a paradise" but is this really the truth?
The mine can't be economic but it offers at least some jobs in this region as everything is done by hands and man power. Per shift approx. 500 workers are required. Since the connecting broad gauge line was cut back to Ledo (Assam) most coal is used locally or trucked for export. But within the coal mine a 2foot narrow gauge line remains in service. In the deep mine itself the little coal cars are shuffled around with man power.
The remaining little steam engines have exiting histories: Nr. 789 and 796 are from the world famous Darjeeling railway originally (both B-class). In the late 60s the mine had bought 4 of these locos and these two are the sole survivors. The picture shows the third engine, called David. It was built in 1924 by Bagnall.
Despite other regions in India, the mine offers everything for live and has even a school. People are very friendly and honest. Life follows the mine. The mine also gives some perspective for the kids. And as long as the mine still produces some coal they have a clear perspective for their lives. But can they rely on a perspective to work in a mine of the early 1900s?
When the mine is gone, the paradise is gone, too.
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Revised: 05/15/15 22:14:15 -0400