In 1992, in Parkal mandal, Warangal district, I had to go into the forest for coal exploration. At around 2 am, Naxalites came into my tent. They were as scared as I was because they didn’t know if I was a police official or not. They said they wanted to talk. They took me out of my tent and spoke of labourers’ wages. That very morning, some of my colleagues who were coming to Parkal were attacked by Naxalites. Their jeep was burnt and they were stranded next to it for two or three days. I don’t know whether this was done by the same guys who spoke to me. I have also encountered wild animals like hyenas and leopards in the dense forests. My heart would be thumping and all I could do was not panic and turn back.
Life is very tough for a geologist. People think geologists just have to do a lot of surveying, but there is much more to it. I have to keep moving around for mineral exploration and mapping the terrain. I am cut off from my family for five to six months at a stretch. I have to go to remote places where no mode of transportation can reach. It usually entails walking for miles along nalas, hills and through dense forests.
In college, I had opted for geology in order to avoid maths. Later, I found it interesting and so did my post-graduation in geology. At that time, there was only one institute that gave jobs to geologists—the Geological Survey of India (GSI). So I cleared the UPSC and got absorbed in the GSI’S coal wing.
The work is satisfying. The country is rich because of its natural resources and it is our job to find them. I found huge coal deposits in Khammam district of Andhra for which my team of four members got the National Mineral Award in 2000.
Till recently, none of us knew that GSI comes under ‘organised services’, according to which we are eligible for benefits like time-bound promotions, etcetera. The authorities had kept this piece of information under wraps. People who have retired have been robbed of their dignity and rights.
(He has been with the GSI for over two decades)
As told to Kruti Y