Shashikant Midha learned to swim as a child in the river near his village in Dhanbad, one of India’s largest coal-mining hubs, but he hasn’t yet found time to dip in the pool at the apartment complex where he lives nowadays, far away in south India.
Working long hours on a car-assembly line in Tamil Nadu state, more than 1,700 kilometers from home, Midha belongs to a trend of Indians migrating out of coal regions, triggered by dwindling and low-paying jobs in a changing industry.
At least 13 million Indians in the poorest regions depend on the country’s coal ecosystem for a living, research from the nonprofit National Foundation for India (NFI) shows.
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