I met two Jharkhandi brothers in the 3AC bogey. Both work as tipper drivers for a contractor who plies for Sesa Goa at the Amona plot. Looks like they have made enough money to shell out over a thousand rupees each for the one way journey from Vasco da Gama to Khordha Road; in all probability they will return as well by 3AC.
I do not know if they were travelling 3AC for the onward journey to Ranchi as well. But a few things they spoke about convinced me they had the bucks. As tipper drivers they earn per trip; as does their boss. So packing in as many trips as possible between the permitted hours, – or “thoda age piche”, as they put it – lets them amass a lot of moolah. Trips beyond the permitted hours are risky – if they are caught by the locals, they run the risk of a beating; but the risk is worth it.
There are other constraints as well. The queues at the loading points sometimes get too long; and the time gets wasted. At such times they steal some short trips – between the ore stock yards and the jetties – which are otherwise reserved for the local truck drivers. Well, there is the risk of knocking someone on the road as they speed to the mines and back; but that is a part of the game.
There is an even better way of earning the extra buck. They put a little water in the tipper before they take it to the mine. As a result, a little mud remains stuck to the base of the tipper even after it is unloaded. Then they drive to the agent who buys the stuck ore; the tipper is scraped and washed. That easily fetches them between Rs3,000 and Rs 5,000 in a day’s span. More than enough for a 3AC round trip between Vasco da Gama – Khordha Road !