Gone are the days when only men covered in soot would clamber out of the inhospitable and exacting confines of a coal mine.
Breaking the glass ceiling, Shivani Meena, an IIT Jodhpur alumna, has become the first woman excavation engineer to work in an open cast mine at Coal India arm CCL.
She will be posted at CCL's Rajrappa project, one of the important enterprises of the coal mining behemoth. Until now the position belonged to men.
The feat follows another milestone when Akanksha Kumari became Coal India's first woman mining engineer to work in an underground mine at CCL's Churi facility in North Karanpura area in Jharkhand.
"Nari Shakti (women power) all the way! Congratulations @ CCL Ranchi. Hoping that this will open avenues for more female professionals to join the mining sector," Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said in a tweet.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani wrote CCL: "Women power on a roll. After CIL's first female mining engineer in UG mines Team CCL now gets first woman excavation engineer Shivani Meena to work in a OC mine."
The Central Coalfields Ltd said Meena joined at its Rajrappa project, a mechanised opencast mine, in the Rajrappa area of CCL, as an excavation engineer.
"This is unprecedented as Shivani is the first woman engineer in the excavation cadre to work in an open cast mine," a CCL statement said.
She has been given the responsibility of maintenance and repair of Heavy Earth Moving Machinery (HEMM), it said,
A native of Bharatpur, Rajasthan, she completed her engineering from IIT Jodhpur, before joining CCL.
Shivani credits her family for the success and states that it was their unwavering support that inspired her to climb new heights.
She said working in Coal India Limited is a cumulation of years of arduous work and she wants to give her best to the company.
"After underground mines, women engineers have registered their entry in open cast mines, thus giving the required impetus to gender equality and women empowerment in coal mining industry," the statement said.
Taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the present central government in the mining sector, these women have not only opened a door of hope and opportunities but have become inspiration for other aspirant engineers, too, it said.
"Girls like Shivani and Akanksha have not merely brought laurels to themselves and their families, but they are a motivation for many others who wish to pursue their leads across the country," the statement added.
CCL said as a responsible public enterprise it has always tried its best to ensure gender equality.
"Our female colleagues have been playing various roles in the company with utmost dedication and responsibility. Now they will be playing an active role in the coal mining too along with their male counterparts to meet the energy requirement of the country," it said.
P M Prasad, CMD of the CCL, and functional directors extended best wishes to Shivani for her bright future.
Last month, Akanksha Kumari became the first woman mining engineer to join CCL.
A resident of Barkagaon in Hazaribagh district, Akanksha had done her schooling from government-run Navodaya Vidyalaya.
Belonging to a mining belt, Akanksha had witnessed coal mining activities from close quarters and had developed a natural inquisitiveness towards mines since childhood which led her to opt for mining engineering at BIT Sindri in Dhanbad.
Before joining the CCL, she had worked for three years in Hindustan Zinc Limited's Balaria mines in Rajasthan, the statement said.
CCL is an arm of the Coal India Limited. It accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic dry fuel production.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)