Surrounding the gritty industrial town of Dhanbad is a region rich in coal, vital to India's burgeoning energy and steel industries. Entire communities of scavengers scratch a living recycling leftover coal lumps, often found in the slag dumped by monster trucks on the edge of vast open cast mines. Others find daily employment in manual labour: the dangerous digging of unregulated mines and the backbreaking loading of trucks.
Entire families - from the youngest of children to their grandparents - are kept permanently blackened by this daily toil, which also takes a toll on their health, particularly in the form of respiratory diseases. In some villages perched on the very edge of the mines, the coal seams beneath the earth have caught on fire. People here are living in a vision of earthly Hell, the ground beneath their feet cracking and emitting noxious methane gases.