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Irony of iron cast workers

Kolkata,India-July 2015. semi liquid hot iron is getting cleared from the floor
Kolkata,India-July 2015. Semi liquid hot iron is getting cleared from the floor.

Irony of iron cast workers, photo essay by Sagnik Datta

[I]n june 2015, I paid a visit to a iron casting foundry in Kolkata. I went there to cover the procedure of iron casting but the reluctance of the foundry authority in terms of workers safety shocked me and gave another dimension to my coverage..

The workers of that foundry works in long 12 hours shifts or even more sometimes in the skin burning heat. They do not have sufficient protective gears while working with hot molten iron. Frequently the hot liquid iron gets spilled on the track while they run to fill the molds of man hole covers.

While ineracting with the workers I came to know that generally their shift starts from 8:00 and ends on 20:00 including half an hour break on 14:00 for supper. In this span of time they are bound to stress their all muscles to work beyond capability. On a non casting day they usually prepare the molds and loads iron slabs in the furnace. Kishan, worker of the foundry told us that it takes about 40 minutes to prepare a dice , if anything goes wrong in between then they have to repeat the process from the beginning. Each worker have to make 15 dices a day, if someone fails to meet his target then he has to work overtime, without extra money . On the other hand few workers are particularly appointed to dump iron slabs in the furnace. They fills up the furnace with a sum of almost 12 ton of iron in 5 days. Each bucket contains almost 20 KG of slabs. We noticed a man who has exposed rib cage and also possess a good amount of muscles in his hands . It simply signifies how much they push themselves.

On the morning of casting when everything is set , the worker who controls the furnace usually prays and worships the furnace for prosperous and safe production. The worship contains few resin sticks and a sweet in the name of furnace. After the worship the furnace starts to heat up. It takes 4-5 hours to melt 12 ton of iron slabs in to hot liquid iron. The furnace usually touches 4500 degree centigrade to melt it down. After long wait, The first batch of hot liquid iron gets checked for quality assurance . If every thing is by the book then the steaming, glowing hot iron is ready to be collected. In a short span of time the temperature of the furnace hits sizzling 72 degree centigrade.

Each worker has a long metal rod attached with the bucket to collect the lava like hot molten iron. They queues up systematically and collects as per their turn. They often sometimes gives hand to their fellow worker if they are having any trouble.

After filling up their bucket the workers runs through the small path as quick as possible to reach their targeted dice to fill it up with hot bubbling iron before cooling it down. The workers are habituated to run barefoot and they dont wear any glare proof glasses.It is really hard to keep yourself getting blacked out completely even if you had just a glimpse at the bucket. Just imagine what it takes to run with such hot liquid and pour it in dice with such precision. This is called true hard labor. It takes something beyond imaginable to work at a foundry.


Kolkata,India-July 2015. Collecting the iron
Collecting the iron
Kolkata,India-July 2015.Pouring hot iron in molds
Pouring hot iron in molds
Kolkata,India-July 2015. Pouring has to be done with precision
Pouring has to be done with precision
Kolkata,India-July 2015.Waiting for own turn
Waiting for own turn
Kolkata,India-July 2015.They love their job
They love their job
Kolkata,India-July 2015.
Kolkata,India-July 2015.
Kolkata,India-July 2015.
Kolkata,India-July 2015.
Kolkata,India-July 2015.
Kolkata,India-July 2015.

Q&A with Sagnik Datta

Photography is…
Photography has become a habit to me, I started in early age and now I am addicted to it. A habit which taught me to visualize the world differently.

Photography and writing…
I used to only photograph few years back but last year a renowned photo-blogger inspired and motivated me to become a photo-blogger, Blogging really did helped me to become used to with documentary and journalism.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
There are several persons whom I adore as a well wisher of mine but mainly my father did motivated me at first. I grew up seeing him covering assignments. Probably that gave me the kick to be a photographer.

Tell us a little about yourself
Well, there is nothing much special about me . Just another 18 years old guy, passionate for photography. Planning to stick to photojournalism in future . Got few recognition on international level for work in documentation.

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Sagnik Datta

(1996), young photo journalism enthusiast, having work experience with regional news papers. Keen learner of pictorial documentation and a street going person…

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