In the State of Jharkhand, in the northeast of India, the Damodar Valley became a hell on Earth. The open-cast coal mines there took over the forest. These mines have been active without interruption for over a century.
The extraction of the "black diamond", destroyed the fauna, the flora, and upset the topography.
For more than eighty years, a huge underground fire is burning exhaling enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the air.
All efforts to put out this fire have been in vain.
In the suffocating hostility of this environment a miserable people sacrificed to the economic development of India, works and survives despite the many diseases caused by the toxic atmosphere.
The lucky ones are employed by mining companies. For a dollar a day, men and women break the coal that they carry in wicker baskets on their head to load the trucks.
But the majority of them, by thousands, before dawn, illegally collect coal to sell it at the black market.
Many people are jobless and can not cultivate their fields because groundwater aquifers are polluted by agents deriving from coal combustion.
With about 300 million Indians living without electricity, and faced with a desperate shortage of power to fuel its factories and produce electricity for its growing metropolises, the Indian government plans to double its state-run coal production by 2020. In order to reach this target, Narendra Modi’s had announced in 2015 that he intended to open one new mine per month.
For several weeks I shared this hell with them. Despite their exhausted faces covered in soot, I was deeply moved by their courage and dignity.