India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts of

India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts of

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India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts of Mining on Children in India
by Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children -- Samata
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
In partnership with mines, minerals & People
March, 2010


India’s Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts of Mining on Children in India

Published by:
Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children-Samata, Visakhapatnam
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi
In partnership with: mines, minerals & PEOPLE

Supported by: Terre des Hommes Germany, AEI & ASTM Luxembourg

March 2010

Any part of this report can be reproduced with permission from the following:

Dhaatri - Samata,
14-37-9, Krishna Nagar,
Maharanipet, Visakhapatnam-530002
Andhra Pradesh

HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
B1/2 Malviya Nagar
New Delhi-110017


Research Coordination: Bhanumathi Kalluri, Enakshi Ganguly Thukral
Field Investigators: Vinayak Pawar, Kusha Garada
Documentation Support: Riya Mitra, G.Ravi Sankar, Parul Thukral
Report: Part 1- Enakshi Ganguly Thukral and Emily
Part 2- Bhanu Kalluri, Seema Mundoli, Sushila Marar, Emily
Design and Printing: Aspire Design

List of Abbreviations

AEI – Aide à l’Enfance de l’Inde
ANM – Auxiliary Nurse cum Midwife
ARI – Acute Respiratory Illness
ASER – Annual Status of Education Report
ASTM – Action Solidarite Tiers Monde
AWC – Anganwadi Centre
BCCL – Bharat Cooking Coal Limited
BGML – Bharat Gold Mines Limited
BHEL – Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited
BIFR – Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction
BPL – Below Poverty Line
BPO – Business Process Outsourcing
BRC – Block Resource Coordinator
BSL – Bisra Stone Lime Company Limited
CCL – Central Coalfields Limited
CHC – Community Health Centre
CICL – Child in Conflict with Law
CMPDI – Central Mine Planning and Design Institute
CNCP – Child in Need of Care and Protection
CSE – Centre for Science and Environment
CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility
Cu m – cubic metres
CWSN – Children With Special Needs
DISE – District Information System for Education
DP camp – Displaced Persons’ Camp
ECL – Eastern Coalfield Limited
EIA – Environmental Impact Assessment
FDI – Foreign Direct Investment
FIR – First Information Report
FPIC – Free Prior and Informed Consent
GAFSCA – Gangpur Adivasi Forum for Social and Cultural
GDP – Gross Domestic Product
GSDP – Gross State Domestic Product
Ha – hectare
HAL – Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
HDI – Human Development Index
HIV/AIDS – Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired
Immuno Deficiency Syndrome
ICDS – Integrated Child Development Scheme
IIPS – International Institute for Population Sciences
ILO – International Labour Organization
IMR – Infant Mortality Rate
IPEC – International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour
IT – Information Technology
KGF – Kolar Gold Fields
KMMI – Karignur Mineral Mining Industry
LWSI – Lutheran World Service India
MASS – Mitra Association for Social Service
MCL – Mahanadi Coalfields Limited
MDGs – Millennium Development Goals
MLPC – Mine Labour Protection Campaign.
mm&P – mines mineral and PEOPLE
MMDR Act – Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act
MP – Madhya Pradesh
MW – Megawatt
NACO – National AIDS Control Organisation
NALCO – National Aluminum Company
NCLP – National Child Labour Project
NCRB – National Crime Records Bureau
NFHS – National Family Health Survey
NGO – Non–Governmental Organisation
NIOH – National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety
NMDC – National Mineral Development Corporation
NREGA – National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
NSSO – National Sample Survey Organisation
OBC – Other Backward Classes
PAP – Project Affected Persons
PDS – Public Distribution System
PHC – Primary Health Centre
PIO – Public Information Officer
PKMS – Pathar Khadan Mazdoor Sangh
POSCO – Pohang Iron and Steel Company
PSSP – Prakrutiko Sampado Surakshya Parishad
READS – Rural Education Action Development Society
R&R – Rehabilitation and Resettlement
Rs – Rupees
RTI – Right to Information
SAIL – Steel Authority of India Limited
SCCL– Singareni Collieries Company Limited
SC – Scheduled Caste
SDP – State Domestic Product
SEEDS – Social Economical Educational Development Society
SEZ – Special Economic Zone
SGVS – Society of Gram Vikasa Saradhi
SHG – Self Help Group
SOP – Superintendent of Planning and Implementation
Sq km – square kilometres
STD – Sexually Transmitted Disease
ST – Scheduled Tribe
TB – Tuberculosis
TDH – Terre des Hommes
UAIL – Utkal Alumina International Limited
UCIL – Uranium Corporation of India Limited
USA – United States of America
VRDS – Vennela Rural Development Society
VRS – Voluntary Retirement Schemes

Table of Contents

• About the Study
• Mining Children — Introduction and Overview
• Part I
o National Overview
• Part II: State Reports
o 1. Karnataka
o 2. Maharashtra
o 3. Rajasthan
o 4. Madhya Pradesh
o 5. Chhattisgarh
o 6. Jharkhand
o 7. Orissa
o 8. Andhra Pradesh
• Part III: Summary and Recommendations
• Part IV
• Appendix- Our Experience with Right to Information Act
• Annexures
o a) Tables
o b) Glossary of Terms

About the Study

This study has been conducted jointly by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights and Samata in close partnership with the national alliance, mines, minerals and People (mm&P) network and Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children, and supported by Terre des Hommes Germany (tdh), AEI & ASTM Luxembourg. The work follows on from an earlier fact-finding mission that was carried out in the iron ore mines of Bellary district, Karnataka. As well as being the first study to cover these issues in a comprehensive way, the study aims to form the basis for mobilisation and advocacy on this issue. We hope that, along with the mm&P network, we will be able to take forward this work and to campaign to bring real improvements in the lives of children affected by mining in India.

This report aims to cover the three phases of mining — premining areas (where projects are being proposed and land needs to be attained), current mining areas (where mining is already taking place) and post-mining areas (where mining operations were significant but have now ceased).

Field research was carried out in eight states to cover a range of different mining situations, as well as a range of minerals being mined in India today. The states covered were: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. In Orissa we undertook case studies in a number of different sites as Orissa is a state most impacted by mining and has been the focus of further mineral expansion.


This report is compiled from a combination of information gathered in the field and from secondary data. The sites for fieldwork were chosen to ensure a range of minerals, both minor and major minerals, were covered as well as a wide geographic space. One of the most important factors was the presence of a local organisation or an mm&P partner. This was a priority for two reasons, to secure local support with the research, and to ensure that local groups will take the campaign forward and use the study as a basis for mobilisation and advocacy in their states.

Not all background data was available through Census statistics or in other public domains. Therefore, the decision was made to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act to gather missing information. RTIs were sent to a number of government departments, including state-owned mining companies, to find out the number of children working in mines, the number of people displaced by projects, various health statistics for people living in these districts and other information that is not readily available. (See end of Part 2 for responses to RTIs filed).

The main methodology used for field case studies was to understand the overall development indicators of the children living around the mines while also identifying the children working in the mines, the nature of their work and working conditions and how their social life is impacted due to the external influences of the complex ad hoc communities of workers, truckers, contractors, traders and other players who form an amorphous and unscrupulous floating population around the mines. This was done through visits to villages, schools, anganwadi centres, primary health centres, orphanages, company run schools and hospitals, meetings with panchayat leaders, village elders, women’s groups, workers’ unions, local officials and NGOs, as well as visits to the mine sites.

List of states and districts visited

• Pune and Nashik districts, Maharashtra, June 2009 (follow up in September 2009)
• Koraput and Rayagada districts, Orissa, June 2009 (follow up in October 2009 and in January-February 2009)
• Kolar and Bellary districts, Karnataka, June 2009 (follow up in Bellary in December 2009)
• Keonjhar district, Orissa, July 2009 (follow up in February 2009
• Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, July 2009 (follow up in Jodhpur in October 2009)
• Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, August 2009
• Chittoor, Cuddapah, Visakhapatnam districts, Andhra Pradesh, June, August and October 2009
• Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, August 2009
• Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, September, 2009
• Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh, November 2009
• Sundergarh district, Orissa, November 2009


Over the course of the research, the study team faced a number of challenges.

The first challenge was the choice of sites. A first list of sites based on choice of minerals, location and presence of an mm&P partner organisation was made. However, some of these sites had to be later dropped, either due to a lack of adequate information or lack of capacity of the partner to provide the necessary support.

This was a time-bound research project. That meant that the project period coincided with the monsoons, which rendered some of the mining sites originally chosen inaccessible.

Despite seeing the overall impact of mining on their lives, communities were not always able to identify those that directly impacted children only. Since this study focussed on the impacts on children, this proved a major challenge for the team. It is difficult even for local organisations campaigning on rights of mining affected communities to provide tangible data with respect to children as impacts and problems are not directly visible on children. Although local groups are knowledgeable about the presence of child labour and other issues, threats from mining and political powers make it dangerous for them to directly confront the state on issues concerning children.

Mining operations are politically sensitive and highly politicised making it difficult to collect information related to children and mining because of the sensitive nature of this issue. People were nervous to talk, as they feared negative consequences. In terms of direct access, it is always difficult to get the opportunity to talk to children first-hand and this is certainly the case with regard to mining. Researchers were cautious to approach children at mine sites, in case of repercussions for these children. When communities were interviewed in their villages, it tended to be the elders who were most vocal in answering questions. In addition to this, primary health centres were unable to provide quantitative data on illnesses or diseases. Schools, where they existed, as in many other parts of the country were often without teachers present at the time of the fieldwork. Therefore, the difficulty in collecting quantitative data and figures meant that we only managed to get indicative information about the impacts of mining on children.

Non-availability of secondary information was yet another challenge. Applications under the Right to Information Act were filed to get relevant information. However this did not prove easy. To be able to get information under the RTI Act, 2005, it is critical to send the application to the right person. Interestingly this experience itself proved to provide important learning in the context of the study.

About this report

This report combines both secondary data as well as primary data. It has been presented in two parts. Part I is the national overview which aims to provide a summary of the huge quantity of data obtained during field research. Part II consists of state reports based on both secondary information about the state and its mining activities as well as case studies from mining sites where field work was undertaken. Part III is summary and detail recommendation and Part IV is the appendix that details our experience with using the Right to Information Act for this study.

Mining Children -- Introduction and Overview

India is endowed with significant mineral resources. The constant endeavour of humans to mine more and more resources from the earth has been going on for centuries. Metals, stones, oil, gas and even sand are all mined. Indeed, steel, aluminum and other plants have come to be a symbol of progress and industrial growth, while fossil fuels and coal are mined for our ever-increasing need for energy. Every time a mining operation begins, it is with promises of growth and development, yet these promises are rarely delivered.

Mining has, throughout history, been a symbol of the struggle between human need and human greed; the human need to dig into the earth and take control over its resources. Industry, infrastructure and investments have been decisively stated as basic vehicles to drive India into this race, which automatically translates into mineral extraction and processing being of utmost importance to implement this dream. Further, development visions are based on certain premises built into public thought processes. The first of these premises is that mining brings economic prosperity at all levels of the country — national and local. It has been based on the principle that the high revenues generated by mining activities will convert poverty stricken and marginalised communities and workforce into economically grounded communities with positive developments in employment generation, health, education, local infrastructure and the creation of a diversified opportunity base.

Overview on Mining

India currently produced 89 minerals out of which 4 are fuel minerals, 11 metallic, 52 non-metallic and 22 minor minerals (such as building stones). Mining for fuel, metallic and non-metallic industrial minerals is currently undertaken in almost half of India’s districts.1 Coal and metallic reserves are spread across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Iron ore deposits are located in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in the north, and Goa and Karnataka in the south. Limestone is found in Himachal Pradesh in the north, to Andhra Pradesh in the south and from Gujarat in the west to Meghalaya in the east. In terms of mineral deposits, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are the top three mineral bearing states.2

The contribution of the mining and quarrying sector to India's GDP in 2008-09 was Rs. 648.91 billion -- a mere 1.94 per cent of the total GDP.3 However, the demand for metals and minerals in India and in other developing countries has led to a steady growth in the country’s mineral industry.4 Mining grew by 4.7 per cent in 2008-09 over the preceding period and with the global recession hitting India, the mining and quarrying industry was the only segment of the economy not to experience steep deceleration of growth rates.5 However, what needs to be remembered is that in terms of the galloping Indian economy, mining makes only a marginal contribution.

In the 2008 National Mineral Policy, the government recognises that:

“As a major resource for development, the extraction and management of minerals has to be integrated into the overall strategy of the country’s economic development. The exploitation of minerals has to be guided by long-term national goals and perspectives.”

However, closer observation of the current mining sector reveals that mineral production is being viewed by both the central and state governments as a means of short-term revenue generation and to fuel current economic growth rates, as opposed to being considered holistically as part of the country’s wider, more long-term development goals, human development indicators and preservation of the environment and other natural resources such as water.

With the new economic policy in India, there have been a number of changes in the mining sector. Although traditionally in the hands of the public sector, there has been increasing privatisation since the early 1990s, and more and more mines are now privately owned. Foreign direct investment has been a thrust area for the sector, with both the central and state governments pushing for liberalisation and deregulation in not only the Coal Nationalisation Act and labour laws, but also in other related areas such as the environment. It has also impacted employment due to the enforcement of Voluntary Retirement Schemes (VRS) on mine workers. The Fifth Scheduled Areas, areas which are constitutionally demarcated for tribal populations, are being opened up for foreign direct investment and private industries, primarily mining, leading to deforestation and displacement of tribals. Most alarmingly, there has been a huge increase in the informal sector mining activities through sub-contracting mining and quarrying.

But mining is not the subject of this study. This study is about the relationship between children’s rights and mining. It attempts to address the question — what is the impact of mining on children? According to the most recent Indian Census carried out in 2001, children constitute over 40 per cent of India's population, many of whom live in mining areas. These we refer to as “Mining Children” in this report.

A fact-finding study in 2005 in the iron ore mines of Hospet in Bellary District, Karnataka, for the first time, brought home to the organisations involved in this study, the immense impact mining has on the lives of children. It became imperative to follow that fact-finding study with a more systematic research to gain a better understanding.

India boasts of several legal protections for children, with the Right to Education being the latest fundamental right. These laws are strengthened by positive schemes to bring children out of poverty and marginalisation. The paradox of mining lies in the fact that the mining industry or the mining administration is not legally responsible for ensuring most of the rights and development needs of children. The mess that is created in the lives of children as a result of mining is now addressed by other departments like child welfare, education, tribal welfare, labour and others, which makes for an inter-departmental conflict of interest and leaves ample room for ambiguities in state accountability. In this process, the child is being forgotten. Hence, the glaring heart-rending impacts of mining on children have technically few legal redressal mechanisms to bring the multiple players to account.

While there is some documentation and research available on the impact of mining on communities in general, apart from scattered and anecdotal information, very little information is available on the impact of mining on children in all its dimensions. Research on mining and children has tended to focus solely on the aspect of child labour, which again is restricted to minerals that are normally exported and have the potential to shock the western consumer. The multitude of other ways in which children are impacted by mining have been completely neglected. Needless to say, neither the groups and campaigns that focus on mining issues, nor those working with children, have paid this issue the attention it deserves.

This report provides but a glimpse into the lives of children living, working, affected by and exploited by mining in India. We hope that the microcosm of children we touched through this report evokes a national reflection on what could be the plight of millions of children affected by mining in India.

It is hoped that this report will yet again bring to national debate the paradox of “India’s inclusive growth” that still ignores the majority of children. When national sentiments are stirred by the rhetoric of children being the future of our nation, it is important to assess for ourselves whether our development models are actually geared towards creating a future for India’s children, or are instead, providing a nation with little present or future for the majority of our children.
It therefore asks the question, “How do we as a nation want to measure ourselves as achieving human development?”

This study shows how the development aspirations created by our policy makers and political leadership create a strong likelihood for future divides between the children of this country, furthering both the socio-economic divide and the urban-rural divide. Among the adivasi and dalit children, the displacement, impoverishment and indebtedness caused by mining and its ancillary activities shows a dearth of opportunities for them to access even basic rights such as primary education and healthcare. That they are being forced to take on adult economic roles in the most exploitative conditions in order to help their families survive, is certainly not an indicator that sets us on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) goals emphasised in the 11th Five Year Plan especially for these social groups. This paves the route to socio-economic disparities in India’s children.

This study also shows that children and their communities are not part of the growth and development that mining promises. For example, it is over 30 years since the NALCO mining project, a public sector undertaking in the Koraput District of Orissa began. In these 30 years, the data from the case study reveals that there has been little upward mobility for the children of affected families, either educationally or economically. This is the fate of those affected by a public sector project where social responsibility is intended to be the principal agenda. There does not appear to be a single mining project that has fulfilled the rehabilitation promises in a manner that has improved the life of affected communities nor have they set a precedent for best practices that the government can set as a pre-condition to private mining companies. Moreover, there has been no assessment or stock taking of the status of rehabilitation especially with regard to the status of children.

The findings from this study provide a strong reason for an urgent comprehensive assessment of the status of children in mining areas — children of mine workers as well as of local communities, child labour engaged in mining and the status of the institutional structures for them. It also calls for addressing the glaring loopholes in the law, policy and implementation related to mining in general, and private and small scale/rat hole mining in particular that are related to children, to develop guidelines for migrant labour and the un-organised sector and pre-conditions that need to be fixed before mining leases are granted. Foremost is the need for strengthening protection mechanisms for children and campaigns against child labour in these regions.

What is the Definition of a “Child”?

A key challenge for child rights work in India is the confusion around the definition of a child in terms of age. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989 and ratified by India in 1992, defines a child as “every human being below the age of 18.” Indian legislation also makes 18 years the general age of majority in India.6 However, other laws passed in India cause confusion in this area, with many laws defining childhood as only up till 14 years of age. For example, although children have been banned from working in hazardous occupations, which includes mining and quarrying, for this purpose, a child is only considered as a person up to 14 years -- for children between 15 and 18, there is no applicable regulation.7

This has also been witnessed with the passing of the recent Right to Education Act in 2009, which guarantees all children between 6-14 years the right to education, but no such guarantee exists for children 15 and above. As organisations committed to the rights of all children in India, in this study, HAQ and Samata will consider the impacts of mining on children up to the age of 18 years. However, there are serious limitations in terms of statistics, as the majority of statistics, such as the Census 2001, only calculates the number of working children up till the age of 14.

Law And Policy

International Standards

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child includes the rights for children to be protected from hazardous work. Children have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or interfering with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The Convention also recognises the right of the child to education and requests State Parties to take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of dropout rates, which is a frequent problem among working children.

In addition, almost all work performed by children in mining and quarrying is hazardous and considered to be one of the worst forms of child labour, defined by the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).8 India has not ratified this convention, and indeed activists and campaigns against child labour too are not in favour of ratifying a convention that distinguishes between hazardous and nonhazardous forms of labour. Their argument is that all forms of labour or indeed, work that denies children their basic rights, is exploitative and hence hazardous, and hence must be banned.

Bedi was also out of tune with the new direction of the Communist Party of India, which had swung sharply to the left, abandoning working with what were termed 'bourgeois' parties for support for peasant insurrections, notably in Telangana in southern India. Bedi's advocacy and implementation of the most radical measures in the 'New Kashmir' manifesto, the redistribution of land which turned hundreds of thousands of labourers into peasant cultivators and greatly alleviated rural indebtedness, was seen within the CPI as promoting reformism over revolution.

Now this was the one act which earned me the severest condemnation from the Communist Party, as to why all these measures were not brought about in the Telangana manner: that is by murder of officials, murder of landlords, and then taking over lands and all that. To that I said, 'I have never come across a more stupid approach than this. When the entire national movement was adopting the programme, which I myself had drafted, and then the entire national movement plus the government ... without a single mishap the whole thing was implemented. You don't realize than [sic] in Kashmir it was not just a mere handing over of power to the national movement. It was virtually, if you look at it realistically, a seizure of power. Telangana means that you are too set and rigid in your pattern; that because Kashmir has not followed the bloody path of killing and murder, it is the wrong way.'16

This sharp (though unpublicised) difference, Bedi said, led to what amounted to his expulsion from the Communist Party.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead

Mining leads to forced evictions. General Comment 7 adopted by the UN Committee for Economic Cultural and Social Rights on Forced Evictions encourages State Parties to ensure that “legislative and other measures are adequate to prevent and if appropriate, punish forced evictions carried out without appropriate safeguards by private persons or bodies.”9

National Laws and Policy

The Constitution of India, along with a whole host of laws and policies, recognise and protect the rights of all children in India. The National Child Policy of 1974 and the more recent National Plan of Action for Children 2005, along with the Eleventh Five Year Plan, lay down the roadmap for the implementation of these rights. These include the rights to be protected from exploitation and abuse and the right to free and compulsory education. These laws are strengthened by positive schemes to bring children out of poverty and marginalisation. But then these are for all children. Very few laws provide any protection or relief to mining children in particular or address their specific situation. This is because the principal job of the Ministry of Mines is to mine. Hence, many of the violations and human rights abuses that result from mining, especially with respect to children, are not the mandate of the mines ministry to address. The responsibility lies elsewhere, and therefore leads to conflict of interest between departments, in which the child falls between the cracks.

In the laws that deal with mining, many do not address the needs and rights of children, or even human beings in general. For example, there are several laws and policies that govern mining in the country,10 which include central as well as state laws and policies. There are also policies and laws that deal with rehabilitation and resettlement of those displaced by the mining project,11 as well as polices for specific minerals such as coal.12 Although people are the most affected, directly or indirectly, when mining operations take place, most of these laws and policies that deal with mining mention little or nothing about people except as labour.

Not surprisingly, children find absolutely no mention, although they may lose access to education, healthcare and other facilities; be affected by pollution and other environmental impacts; be pushed into joining the labour force and end up unskilled and illiterate forever as a result of mining.

Child labour is one of the most vicious impacts of mining that one sees. However, laws to address the employment of children in such hazardous conditions are weak. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in mines (underground and underwater) and collieries (Schedule Part A). It also prohibits employment of children in certain mining related processes listed in Schedule B.13 This is a huge gap in the law because it does not unilaterally ban employment of children in all mining, thereby leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Even while prohibiting the employment of children in mines, the Mines Act leaves open a window of opportunity for exploitation. While the Mines Act, 1952, and the Mines (Amendment) Act, 1983, lay down that no person below 18 years of age shall be allowed to work in any mine or part thereof (Section 40) or in any operation connected with or incidental to any mining operation being carried on (Section 45), it simultaneously allows for children of 16 years to be apprentices and trainees. It also leaves it to the discretion of the Inspector to determine whether the person is a worker or apprentice/trainee and fit to work (Section 43.1). The National Mineral Policy has one line under its section on infrastructure development that “a much greater thrust will be given to development of health, education, drinking water, road and other related facilities…”, failing to mention who will do it and how.

The law that can be most effective in dealing with child labour in mining as well as any other form of vulnerability arising out of mining, is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000, Amended 2006, which defines children as persons up to the age of 18 and deals with two categories of children — the Child in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP) and the Child in Conflict with Law (CICL). Section 2d defines a child in need of care and protection as one who is exploited or abused or one who is vulnerable to being abused or exploited. It includes children already or vulnerable to displacement and homelessness, trafficking, labour etc.

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957, is an Act stated to undertake mining and use of minerals in a “scientific” manner. This is the primary Act, which is slated for amendment, concerned with mining in India under the National Mineral Policy framework. The rules laid under this Act mainly relate to mine planning, processes of mining, the nature of technology, procedures and eligibility criteria for obtaining mining leases and all aspects related to mines. It does not give any reference to the manner in which mining is to take place, from the social context, except for some broad guidelines in terms of environment, rehabilitation and social impacts. Given the huge negative impacts of mining on children, specific pre-conditions should be clearly laid out prior to granting of mining leases, where mining companies have to indicate concrete actions for the development and protection of children. In order to undertake responsible mining, unless some of the following social impacts and accountability, particularly, with regard to children, are incorporated within the Act and the Mine Plan, violation of children’s rights will continue in mining areas.

The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2009 was passed by the Lok Sabha on February 25, 2009. However, it has since lapsed and not become an Act. As with all generic laws and policies, there is no special recognition accorded to children except to mention educational institutions as part of social impact assessment and orphans in the list of vulnerable persons.14 It says that while undertaking a social impact assessment under sub-section 4(2), the appropriate government shall take into consideration facilities such as health care, schools and educational or training facilities, anganwadis, children’s parks15 etc. and this report has to be submitted to an expert group in government, which must include “the Secretary of the departments of the appropriate government concerned with the welfare of women and children, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or his nominee, ex officio.” 5(2b). In a letter to the Minister for Rural Development, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had pointed out that a review of the status of children in areas of displacement due to development programmes as well as disaster and conflicts, shows that most rehabilitation programmes do not take into account the impacts on children. Because displacement can lead to a violation of rights of children in relation to their access to nutrition, education, health and other facilities, it calls for an impact assessment on children and their access to entitlements. This has to be gender and age specific.16

The National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy neglects to mention children as affected persons and therefore fails to recognise or acknowledge the ways in which children are specifically impacted by displacement for any project including mining. Impacts on children are different from those on adults. Yet no mention is made in this policy of the effect this displacement will have on their access to food, education and healthcare, as well as their overall development.


Children are affected directly and indirectly by mining. Among the direct impacts are, the loss of lands leading to displacement and dislocation, increased morbidity due to pollution and environmental damage, consistent degeneration of quality of life after mining starts, increase in school dropouts and children entering the workforce.

The indirect impacts of mining, often visible only after a period of time, include a fall in nutrition levels leading to malnutrition, an increase in diseases due to contamination of water, soil and air, and increased migration due to unstable work opportunities for their parents.

It is paradoxical that while mining is touted as heralding prosperity and growth and if it is meant to bring in a better life, then why is this not visible in the lives of local people –- men women and children –- whose lands are being mined, or who have been brought there as labour to mine the lands?

Direct and Indirect Impacts of Mining on Children

1. Increased morbidity and illnesses: Mining children are faced with increased morbidity. Children are prone to illness because they live in mining areas and work in mines.

2. Increased food insecurity and malnutrition: While almost 50 per cent of children in many states across the country are malnourished, mining areas are even more vulnerable to child malnutrition, hunger and food insecurity.

3. Increased vulnerability to exploitation and abuse: Displaced, homeless or living in inadequate housing conditions, forced to drop out of schools, children become vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and being recruited for illegal activities by mafia and even trafficking.

4. Violation of Right to Education: India is walking backwards in the mining affected areas with respect to its goal of education for all. Mining children are unable to access schools or are forced to drop out of schools because of circumstances arising from mining.

5. Increase in child labour: Mining regions have large numbers of children working in the most hazardous activities.

6. Further marginalisation of adivasi and dalit children: Large-scale mining projects are mainly in adivasi areas and the adivasi child is fast losing his/her Constitutional rights under the Fifth Schedule, due to displacement, land alienation and migration by mining projects. As with adivasi children, it is the mining dalit children who are displaced, forced out of school and employed in the mines.

7. Migrant children are the nowhere children: The mining sector is largely dependent on migrant populations where children have no security of life and where children are also found to be working in the mines or other labour as a result of mining.

8. Mining children fall through the gaps: Children are not the responsibility of the Ministry of Mines that is responsible for their situation and the violation of their rights. The mess that is created in the lives of children as a result of mining has to be addressed by other departments like child welfare, education, tribal welfare, labour, environment and others. Without convergence between various departments and agencies, the mining child falls through the gaps. All laws and policies related to mining and related processes do not address specific rights and entitlements of mining children.

“MINING HAPPINESS FOR THE PEOPLE OF ORISSA” promises one mining company. “STEEL IN EVERY STEP, SONG IN EVERY HEART” promises another. Yet why then are people affected by mining asking, “the government is telling us that this mining is going to be profitable to the country and that this is for India’s development... But if this is India’s development, are we not a part of India? Why is the government not considering us?”

Sources: 1. Mining company signboards in Orissa.
2. Person about to be displaced for lignite mining project, Barmer district, Rajasthan, July 2009.


Specific for children

• The government must recognise that children are impacted by mining in a number of ways, and these impacts must be considered and addressed at all stages of the mining cycle pre-mining, mining and post-mining.
• This concern for mining children must find reflection in all laws and policies on mining- National Mineral Policy 2008; the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR); Mines (Amendment) Act, 1983.
• Recognising that children concerns in the present governance structure are the responsibility of several departments in the State and Ministries in the Centre, it is essential to ensure convergence both in law and policy level, as well of services to ensure justice to the mining child.
• There is a need for linking the existing child protection institutions the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights as well as the State Commissions for Protection of Child rights with children affected by mining and the establishment of a state level and district level monitoring committee consisting of all the concerned departments that have responsibilities to protect the child responsible for monitoring as well as grievance redressal.
• The governments and society must no longer live in denial regarding the existence of children in labour in mines and amend the laws accordingly. Given the extreme hazardous nature of the activity, the Mines Act, 1952 and the Mines (Amendment) Act, 1983 must be amended to ensure that children below 18 years of age are not working in the mines as trainees and apprentices from the age of sixteen. The lacunae in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 with respect to children working in mines must be addressed by amending the law to include all mining operations in Schedule A of Prohibited Occupations.17

"Swami" Style Tea Service

"Swami" Style Tea Service. Cooke & Kelvey, Calcutta, ca.1880. Sterling Silver, Dimensions: Teapot: Height: 7 1/4 inches H x 8 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches W (18.41 cm H x 21 x 10.8 cm W), Weight: 32.04 oz. (908.32 gram); Sugar Bowl: Height: 5 3/8 inches H x 4 inches W (13.65 cm H x 10.16 W), Weight: 19.11 oz. (541.75 gram); Creamer: Height: 5 3/8 inches H x 4 1/2 x 4 5/8 inches W (13.65 cm H x 11.44 x 11.75 cm W), Weight: 14.35 oz. (406.8 gram)

-- Indian Silver during the Raj, by Harish K. Patel with Veronica J. McDavid

• It is essential to mainstream child rights concerns into policies, amendments to the existing laws on mining and those that are being proposed by the respective ministries, whether with regard to the Rehabilitation Bill, the Social Security Bill, the Land Acquisition Bill, to name a few.
• Immediately address the high levels of malnourishment, hunger and food insecurity in mining areas, as has been found in this study and in keeping with the Supreme Court Orders in the Right to Food Case18 through stock taking and implementation of ICDS projects in mining areas.
• Given their especially marginalised situation, ensure that migrant, adivasi and dalit mining children receive special attention.
• Given the additional vulnerability to exploitation and abuse that mining brings to children, the government must prioritise the implementation of its flagship scheme on child protection called the Integrated Child protection Scheme (ICPS) on vulnerable areas such as the mining areas. The aim of the scheme is to reduce vulnerability as much as to provide protection to children who fall out of the social security and safety net.
• It is essential to implement the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 to address the condition of the children in the mining areas in a manner relevant to their specific situations through the provision and strengthening of protection, monitoring and grievance redressal mechanisms or support structures for protection of mining children such as the Child Welfare Committees.
• There is need for extending the support (in a more focussed way) by the Juvenile Justice Boards, the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and the State Juvenile Police Units to adivasi children in areas where displacement and landlessness has led to their exploitation or brought them in conflict with law.
• Guaranteeing all mining children their right to Free and Universal Compulsory Elementary Education is a right for all children through the targeted provision of accessible and quality education, the same as that available to the children of the mining officials. Number, quality and reach of primary and elementary schools, including infrastructure and pedagogic inputs, have to be adequately scaled up.
• The National Child Labour Programme (NCLP) must be extended to all children working in mines, which means it must be upgraded substantially in terms of numbers, financial allocations and quality of delivery as well as monitoring and ensure mainstreaming of all children attending NCLP schools into regular schools is mandatory and this must be ensured from children rescued from labour in mines.
• There must be a comprehensive assessment of the health impacts on children living and working in mining areas and considering the high levels of environmental pollution and occupational diseases as a result of mining the Ministry needs to have delivery services that will address critical child health and mortality issues, especially related to pollution, contamination, toxicity, disappearance of resources like water bodies that have affected the nutrition and food security of the communities, etc.
• Rehabilitation must be an integral part of the lease agreement and the Rehabilitation Plan should clearly specify the impacts on and plans for children which must begin before the mining project begins in a time-bound manner. This includes decent and adequate housing with toilet and Potable drinking water, good quality schools within the rehabilitation/resettlement colony, electricity, anganwadi centre with supplementary nutrition to pregnant women and single mothers, colleges, health institutions, roads and transport.

• Violation of any of these impacting children should result in the cancellation of the lease. Penalties should be defined for non-implementation of rehabilitation as per projected plans and assessments with recommendations made by the monitoring committee.

Overarching Recommendations

• The Ministry of Mines has to evolve regional plans with appropriate local governance institutions (district, block) and the community with clarity in terms of quantity and quality of ore that will be extracted, the extent of area involved, demographic profile of this region, economic planning for extraction that includes number of workers required, nature of workers (local, migrant), type of technology, social cost including wages, estimate of workers and assured work period, providing (in the case of migrant workers) residential facilities like housing, basic amenities like drinking water, electricity, early childhood care facilities, quality of education, toilet, PDS facility and other requirements for a basic quality of life. The resources for these must not be drawn upon from public exchequer but recovered from the promoter.
• The public sector companies should set an example to first clean up the situation and redress the destruction caused to children and their environment in the existing mines with a clear time frame which will be scrutinised by the independent committee at regular intervals as agreed upon. The clean up should also state the budget allocated by each company for this purpose and provide details of expenditure incurred, to the committee.
• A benefit sharing mechanism must be immediately established so that it is not restricted to immediate short term monetary relief, but should show long term sustainability of the communities and workers, including post-mining land reclamation and livelihood programmes that have measurable outputs. A share from the taxes or profits shared by the companies should be ploughed into institutions for children.
• New mine leases should not be granted unless significant clean up and institutional mechanisms are in place. No private mining leases should be granted in the Scheduled Areas and the Samatha Judgement should be respected in its true spirit.
• The National Commission for the Unorganised Sector which is proposing the new Social Security Bill should take into cognizance, the above legal and policy recommendations, particularly with respect to the migrant mine workers and include adequate social security benefits that directly support development and protection of children.



1. Centre for Science and Environment, “Rich Lands, Poor People,” State of India’s Environment: 6, 2008, pp. 3.

2. Ibid.

3. Ministry of Mines, Annual Report, 2008-2009, pp. 10.

4. U.S. Geological Survey, 2007 Minerals Yearbook: India, pp. 11.1.

5., India’s GDP falls to 6.7 per cent in FY09, ... -falls.htm, 29 May, 2009.

6. Ministry for Women and Child Development, Definition of the Child,, uploaded: 10 August 2009.

7. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.

8. The worst forms of child labour comprises, inter alia, work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children.

9. For more information see A Handbook on UN Basic Principles and Guidelines based on Development–based Evictions and Displacement by Amnesty International India, Housing and Land Rights Network and Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action.

10. Such as the Mines Act, 1952 (Amendment Act 1983); Mines And Minerals (Development And Regulation) Act, 1957 (As Amended Up To 20th December, 1999); Government Of India Ministry Of Mines National Mineral Policy, 2008 (For Non - Fuel And Non - Coal Minerals); as well as state polices such as Karnataka Mineral Policy 2008.

11. National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2007.

12. There are a number of acts and policies which specifically govern the coal industry in India. For further details, see:, and http://

13. Mica-cutting and splitting; manufacture of slate pencils (including packing); manufacturing processes using toxic metals and substances, such as lead, mercury; fabrication workshops (ferrous and non-ferrous); gem cutting and polishing; handling chromite and manganese ores; lime kilns and lime manufacturing; stone breaking and crushing; etc.

14. In Section 21(2-iii and iv) it states that vulnerable persons such as the disabled, destitute, orphans, 14. widows, unmarried girls will be included in the survey as also families belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

15. 4 (2) “While undertaking a social impact assessment under sub-section (1), the the appropriate government shall, inter alia, take into consideration the impact that the project will have on public and community properties, assets and infrastructure; particularly, roads, public transport, drainage, sanitation, sources of drinking water, sources of water for cattle, community ponds, grazing land, plantations, public utilities, such as post offices, fair price shops, food storage godowns, electricity supply, health care facilities, schools and educational or training facilities, anganwadis, children’s parks, places of worship, land for traditional tribal institutions, burial and cremation grounds.”

16. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Infocus, Volume 1.No. 4

17. At present mining and collieries are the only forms of mining included in Schedule A.

18. For details see- (accessed on 13 March 2010)Interviews with mining-affected communities, Kasipur district, Orissa, June 2009.
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:15 am

Part 1 of 3

Part I: National Overview

Mining has impacts on people at different stages in its development. By its very nature it is fundamentally unsustainable, as all natural resources are finite and will eventually run out. Mining obviously has the most impacts on people working in the sites, but the local community is also impacted in terms of health problems and other negative influences the activity may introduce or exacerbate in the region. In the pre-mining phase, communities are displaced for mining activities and they may lose their farmland or even their homes.

The length of the active mining phase depends on the quantity of minerals available in the area. But eventually all mines have to be closed. The post-mining phase also poses its own distinct problems. Mining companies very rarely develop adequate closure plans, to put in place mechanisms to protect the community once mining ceases. Mining and quarry sites are often simply abandoned by companies once the minerals have dried up, and this land is generally useless, as it cannot be easily transformed back into agricultural land. Therefore the local community is often left landless and jobless.

Working conditions are very different in the formal and informal mining sectors. The average daily wage for workers in the formal sector in India in 2007 was Rs.444.21.19 They will often receive other benefits, such as paid holidays and sometimes healthcare and education for their families.

Table 1.1: Hazards and risks in the general mining environment

• Exposure to:
o subhuman living conditions (lacking sanitation, drinking water, extreme geographical and climatic locations);
o complicated dependency relations;
o degrading social environment (criminality, prostitution);
o exposure to STD, AIDS, etc.;
o inequality between men and women
(men dispose of economic resources); erosion of family and social structure;
o violent behaviour towards child workers;
o violent conflicts among miners and with surrounding communities;
o lack of law and order

Possible Consequences
o deterioration of ethical value system
o injuries or death due to crime or violence
o omission of schooling and education;
o vulnerability to diseases due to lack of hygiene and sanitation
o exacerbation of injuries and illnesses due to lack of health services

Source: International Programme in Elimination of Child Labour, International Labour Office, Eliminating Child Labour in mining and Quarrying - Background Document, World Day Against Child Labour, 12 June, 2005; pp 13

However, the number of people employed in the formal sector is relatively small — in 2005, this amounted to 559,100.20 Instead, the majority of people working in mining and quarrying in India are engaged in the informal sector, which is more labour intensive, less mechanised and less organised. Rather than being paid a daily wage for their labour, their earnings are usually according to what they produce. They often have no formal contracts and therefore no employment rights. Many are migrant labourers living in makeshift housing close to mine sites. Villagers in Mariyammnahalli in Bellary district, Karnataka, explained how there are no facilities provided for mine workers. All the facilities provided — such as schooling for their children, houses, water and health facilities — are only available for technical workers and officers in the large mining companies. Informal mineworkers are provided with nothing, and they are too afraid to join a union or complain about the situation in case they lose their jobs.21 The nature of the work is fundamentally unsustainable.

Illegal mining

Illegal mining is rampant across India. It is estimated that in Maharashtra, at least 25% of the stone quarries are operating illegally.22 A similar situation was observed in all other states visited — in some areas, almost 50 per cent of mines and quarries are either illegal, or illegal extraction of minerals is taking place there. For instance, in Jambunathahalli, a small village near Hospet, in Karnataka, the research team found over 100 acres of land being used for small-scale illegal mining. The researchers visited three sites where mainly migrant labour from other parts of the state were working. The people reported that there were at least 40 illegally operating mines here but the numbers reduced due to economic recession.23 According to the District Mining Officer of Pune, there are 412 stone quarries, but the ground reality reports show that there are double this number operating illegally. It was unofficially accepted that between 25 and 40 percent of all mines are illegal.

Table 1.2 shows an estimate of the number of illegal mines operating across the country as reported by the state governments.

This table clearly shows the huge number of illegal mines that have been identified by the state governments. In Andhra Pradesh, for example, a staggering 13,478 illegal mines were found in 2008. However, no real action was taken following their discovery — there was not a single First Information Report (FIR) or court case filed. And in other states there has been a noticeable increase in the number of illegal mines in recent years, from 284 in Orissa in 2006, to 1,059 in 2008.

Mine closures

Very little attention has been given to “post mining” situations and in particular, the ways in which local communities are impacted when mines shut down. Most mine closure plans do not address the impact of closure on workers or the communities dependent on mining activities for their survival. Attention is rarely paid to the rehabilitation of these workers and communities. In Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan, stone quarries have ceased operations in several localities and with no alternative livelihoods, former mine workers are forced to leave their villages and seek work in other states.24

Table 1.2: Number of illegal mines detected in India, 2009

In the Kolar district of Karnataka, the closing down of gold mining operations of the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) has left a large community with no livelihood options. When the company was closed down suddenly in 2002, the entire population of KGF fell into a crisis with no alternative source of income or livelihood. Workers stated that although their salaries were not very high, infrastructure and free services provided to them by the company ensured that the basic needs of health, education and public services were met, but when the company shut down, not only were the salaries withdrawn but also all basic amenities. After the closure, the company withdrew all amenities to the workers. State institutions did not take over as workers were not in a position to pay for these services. Children of workers’ families were the most affected by the company’s decision. Children’s education and social security faced the axe. As education was no longer a free service, many of the workers could not pay school fees during the period of the strike. Children faced humiliation at school and many of them had to drop out and take on the responsibility of sustaining their families, forcing many of them to travel out to Bangalore in search of employment. Each morning 7,000-12,000 young adults leave for work to Bangalore by these trains and return only late in the night. The study team saw packed crowds leave at 6 in the morning and return by the last train that comes into KGF at 9:00 pm. and how adolescent girls form a majority of these daily commuters. When interviewed, the young girls, who commute by these trains, admitted that they are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse as the trains are overcrowded, but they brush it aside as unavoidable as they have no other choice but to sustain their families. Some of the women and young girls from the workers’ families turned to prostitution to keep their families from starving. What was more, young boys were getting into criminal activities such as petty thefts and youth were getting hired by political and criminal groups which operate in Bangalore, for violent and criminal activities. However, people of KGF prefer not to have such news highlighted as it only sensationalises KGF without actually addressing their core problems. One of the glaring problems reported by the people themselves is theft. Young boys operate as petty criminals and steal parts of the company infrastructure like metal sheets from mine shafts, machinery and other scrap. (For more details see state report on Karnataka in Part 2)

How do the mining districts in India fare in terms of child development?

In order to examine the impact of mining on children in India, it is relevant to look at some of the child-related development indicators in the key mining districts across the country. The Table 1.3 brings together some of these statistics for the 15 districts where field research has been carried out during the course of this study, and for an additional nine districts, identified as being amongst the most heavily mined areas of the country. The situation of children will be discussed in more detail for the majority of these districts in the state overview section of the case studies. However, a cursory glance at the table reveals that in many of the districts, mineral wealth is not leading to better development outcomes for children. In the districts more dependent on mining, the majority have a lower than national average literacy rate; more than 10 percent of children between 0-14 years are still out of school with a high rate of child labour. In a national study on under five mortality rates in India, these districts have also ranked close to the bottom (see: Dantewada, Chhattisgarh; Panna, Madhya Pradesh; Koraput and Rayagada, Orissa). In contrast, the districts which have more diversified economies and are less dependent on mining can be seen to have better development outcomes for children across the board, for example, Cuddalore (Tamil Nadu) and Pune (Maharashtra).

Who is affected by mining?

Mining areas tend to be occupied by the poorest and most marginalised sections of society. Indeed, it is a twisted irony that the poorest people live on the lands richest with natural resources. This is because a vast majority of mining in the country is taking place in tribal areas. Adivasi children lose their constitutional rights under the Fifth Schedule over their lands and forests when their families are displaced from their lands.

Despite the passing of the Samatha Judgement in 1997, which is intended to protect the rights of tribal people to their lands, violations continue and over 10 million adivasis have lost their land in India.
Across the country, 77 districts, or parts of districts, have been identified as Fifth Schedule Areas.25 The Fifth Schedule covers tribal areas in ten states in India, and it guarantees prevention of transfers in the form of mining leases to private companies. However, violations of this constitutional safeguard are taking place by transfer of lands in the Scheduled Areas to persons other than the Scheduled Tribes, for which control the State is instrumental. It has allowed transfer of land initially to public sector mining companies in the 1970s, and more so, post the 1990s, to private and multinational mining companies, either as joint ventures with state bodies holding the majority ownership (as was done with Rio Tinto and Orissa Mineral Development Corporation) or as private joint ventures (as in Utkal Alumina Limited in Kasipur, Orissa) or directly to a private company (as in Vedanta/Sterlite in Lanjigarh, Orissa). By opening up more land for private mining companies, tribal communities are facing forcible displacement.

Samatha Judgement

The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and of Scheduled Tribes in these areas. It covers tribal areas in ten states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Sikkim. Essentially, the Schedule was intended to provide a guarantee to adivasi people and protect the lands in the Scheduled Areas from being transferred to persons other than tribal. However, violations of this Schedule in Andhra Pradesh, when lands in the scheduled area of Visakhapatnam district were transferred to Birla Periclase and 17 other mining companies, led the NGO Samatha to initiate a court case in the Supreme Court against the state government for leasing out tribal lands to private mining companies. This led to the historic Samatha Judgement in July 1997, which rendered all leases to mining companies in Scheduled Areas null and void and prohibited the future lease of lands in these areas to non-tribals.

A very conservative estimate indicates that in the last 50 years, approximately 20.13 million people have been displaced in the country owing to big projects, such as mines and dams. Of these, at least 40 per cent are indigenous tribal people. Only one-fourth of these people have been resettled.26 Around 47.9 per cent of the population in the area affected by the Vedanta project in Orissa are from Scheduled Tribes.27

Table 1.3: Key indicators in mining districts

Coal is considered one of the most polluting mining activities and has serious implications on climate change concerns. Yet India’s agenda of coal expansion in the coming decade -- to ensure that 70 per cent of its energy demands will be met from coal-based power — is bound to have serious long term impacts on a large population of children, especially Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe children, who live in the coal mining region of the central Indian belt, which consist of some of the most backward states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh and parts of the North East like Meghalaya.

Specific situation of tribal children

Even under usual circumstances, statistics show that tribal children in India still struggle to access basic services such as education and healthcare. According to the Ministry for Human Resource Development, 9.54 per cent of Scheduled Tribe children remain out of school.28 Continued exclusion and discrimination within the education system have resulted in dropout rates remaining the highest amongst Scheduled Tribe children as compared to all other social groups. Over 70 per cent of Scheduled Tribe children dropped out in 2003-04 between Classes I to VIII.29

The majority of health indicators show far poorer results for children from Scheduled Tribe populations as compared to the national average. The most recent National Family Health Survey, published in 2007, revealed that infant and child mortality rates remain very high amongst tribals. Tribal children are also still less likely to receive immunisation.30 The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Zielger, in his report based on his mission to India in August 2005, wrote that most victims of starvation are women and children of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, with their deaths mainly due to discrimination in the food based schemes. According to his report, this was because of discrimination in access to food and productive resources, evictions from lands, and a lack of implementation of food based schemes despite laws prohibiting discrimination and “untouchability.”31 Given that tribal children still face enormous challenges in terms of access to food, education and healthcare, displacement by mining projects increases their vulnerabilities further and renders their survival and development even more precarious. Displacement also has a serious psychological impact on children, who need a degree of security and stability in their upbringing.

The situation of tribal children in the mining areas of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is a case in point. The residents of Bhat Basti had previously been nomadic, roaming around the countryside with their livestock. However, lack of available land for animal grazing, as a result of urbanisation and industrialisation, forced them to settle in one location almost 20 years ago, where all the adults and many of the children now work as daily wage labourers in the local stone quarries. None of the 200-odd children in the village attended school and all were illiterate. They lived in kachha housing, made of stones and covered with black tarpaulin sheets. There was no running water, electricity or sanitation available in the village. The children had received no vaccinations apart from polio and all are malnourished. The research team met one severely malnourished boy who was claimed to be two years old but looked like a baby of no more than nine months.

One of the fundamental concerns with regard to displacement of adivasi communities for mining projects is the loss of constitutional protection for their children. The rehabilitation policy and the new tribal policy have been diluted from the earlier position of land-for-land as compensation, to a mere monetary compensation if there was no possibility of providing land. Further, the rehabilitation policy also specifies that no rehabilitation will be undertaken in the Scheduled Areas where less than 250 families are proposed to be affected. This, at one stroke, deprives the next generation of adivasi children of the land transfer regulations under the Fifth Schedule, whose families are alienated from their lands for mining projects. As these families either migrate to plain areas or are converted to landless labourers even if they continue to live in the Scheduled Areas, they no longer enjoy the privilege of the Fifth Schedule as far as land is concerned. This is a constitutional violation of the rights of the adivasi child.32


Mining areas are inhabited by people. Taking over land for mining means displacing them. These forced evictions, when land is taken over for extraction, or for setting up plants and factories, uproots and dislocates entire communities. Children are forced out of schools, lose access to healthcare and other basic services and are forced to live in alien places. Most often, there is little or no rehabilitation effort made by the government. This has a long-term impact on the displaced children.

Across the world, tribal (or indigenous) populations are being displaced for mining activities. Mining struggles in indigenous communities have been witnessed in numerous countries, from Canada to the Philippines, and from Uganda to Papua New Guinea and to the USA, which massacred native Indians,33 first for the gold rush and later, for other minerals like coal and uranium. Mineral resources are often found in places inhabited by indigenous populations. Therefore, when mining activity begins, these communities are displaced from the hills and forests where they live. They then lose access not only to their homes and land, but also to their traditional livelihoods.34 In most places, compensation has been wholly inadequate and tribal communities are forced into poverty. Their capacity for subsistence survival is often destroyed — tribal symbols of prosperity in subsistence are not recognised as anything that have worth or value. Mines and factories have reduced self-reliant, self-respecting tribal families to living like refugees in ill-planned rehabilitation colonies, while rendering many others homeless.35

The National Mineral Policy, 2008, recognises that “Mining operations often involve acquisition of land held by individuals including those belonging to the weaker sections.”36 It highlights the need for suitable Relief and Rehabilitation (R&R) packages and states that “Special care will be taken to protect the interest of host and indigenous (tribal) populations through developing models of stakeholder interest based on international best practice. Project affected persons will be protected through comprehensive relief and rehabilitation packages in line with the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy.” However, several problems with respect to the R&R policy, such as under-estimation of project costs and losses, under-financing of R&R, non-consultation with affected communities and improper implementation of the promised rehabilitation, are some of the glaring failures on the part of the state with respect to mining projects. This is well reflected, for example, in the case study of the resettled camps of NALCO in Orissa.37

Rajesh (name changed) is fifteen years old and comes from the village of Janiguda. He works in a roadside restaurant at Dumuriput of Damanjodi. His family lost all their land for the NALCO project, which converted his father, who did not get a job in the company, into an alcoholic. Having spent all the compensation money on liquor, the father left the family on the streets. Rajesh dropped out of school and had to come to Damanjodi town in search of work to support his family. He earns around Rs. 1,200 per month working in the hotel and sends home around Rs. 1,000 every month. He says, “Work in the hotel is difficult and there is no time for rest except after 12 in the night every day.”

Source: Interview carried out in Damanjodi, Orissa, 3 February 2010

Despite the grand statements made in the National Mineral Policy, 2008, and the existence finally of a National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, thousands of people will continue to lose their land and end up in worse situations of poverty if the government continues to prioritise profits from mining over the rights of communities to live on their land. One recent example of this has been the struggle by the Dongria Kondh tribe in Orissa to prevent a British mining company, Vedanta, from displacing them. The groups have lived for many generations in this area and the Niyamgiri mountain is considered by them to be a sacred site. However, Vedanta has established an alumina refinery on the top of the mountain, illegally encroaching forestlands without clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in this area rich with the mineral, bauxite. Although the company claims that the refinery will bring “significant employment and economic livelihood for the local people”38 the reality is that local communities have lost their land and their most sacred place of worship and they are living in a state of corporate intimidation affecting the life of the children and youth who are innocent victims of what has been allowed to happen by the state. Similar is the situation of the adivasis in Kasipur who are caught in the midst of daily conflict because of the tensions created by the mining company.39

Neither the National Mineral Policy, 2008, nor the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy mention children, and therefore fail to recognise or acknowledge the ways in which children are specifically impacted by displacement for mining. There are also serious protection issues arising from the displacement of children. Studies have shown that children who are displaced are more vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation.40

Some people have been displaced in mining areas multiple times, yet have received no compensation and critically no alternative livelihood provision. The World Bank has made a distinction between “resettlement” and “rehabilitation”. Displaced people face impoverishment risks beyond merely the loss of property. Rehabilitation entails more than just compensation and relocation. It involves ensuring that people have income streams, livelihoods and social systems restored and that affected people and their children become better off as a result of the project.41

However, this has rarely been the case with mining-induced displacement in India. Members of the Dongria Kondh tribe explain how they have lost their self-sufficiency as a result of Vedanta’s project in Orissa and now they are struggling to survive. One woman says she used to grow crops on 7 hectares of common land, but now she has lost this land and received no compensation: “The way we were living, we were self-sufficient, and we had lived like that for generations,” she says. “We could have lived like that for many more generations too. Because of these people, we cannot. But we will still fight to continue the old ways.”42 The tribe fears that once mining starts, they will lose their livelihood completely. They say, “Once they start mining, the mountain will be bulldozed and the rivers will dry up and our livelihood will be lost. We will become fish out of water. We don’t know how to adapt and survive and our way of living is not available in the cities. We will be extinct.”43

Mining companies claim that they create jobs and raise the standard of living for the local population. However, experience shows that this is not the case. In most of the areas visited, the mining company jobs were not going to local people, but instead staff were being brought in from outside. In Jharkhand, with the Urimari coal-mining project, we found that none of the employees of the company were local tribal people. Instead, the local people work as casual labour, hired to carry out tasks such as loading and unloading trucks. Many of the mineworkers are women, children and youth from surrounding villages who have been displaced from their land.44 In total, 14 villages with 95 per cent of the population coming from Scheduled Tribes, are reported to have been displaced by Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) for this project, and apart from monetary compensation, they have not received any other benefits. Although a school has been set up, this is not functional, and medical facilities are mainly provided to employees of the company and not to the local community.45

In Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, 3,316 families have been displaced for the Neyveli Lignite Corporation project. This has had a serious impact on the livelihoods of a number of families. People have lost agricultural land in the area and are now struggling to find work. Those who had land argue that the compensation they received is not enough. When they were displaced 20 years ago, they received only Rs.3,500 per acre of land.
However, the impacts have hit the Scheduled Caste population worst in the area — they had no land to start with and worked as labourers on other people’s land, so they received no compensation at all and now lack employment opportunities.46

Families in Mariyammnahalli, in Bellary district, Karnataka, have lost their agricultural land, and therefore their financial security. They have now become daily wage labourers working in mine sites. Many of these former farmers are now forced to send their children out to work as they can no longer afford to continue sending them to school.47 As well as working in mining, these children are sent to work in other sectors, such as the garment industry. According to the Child Rights Trust in Hospet, there are many children working in the garment industry in the district, which is famous for its jeans.48

Impacts of displacement on education and health

Displacement causes a significant disruption to education and healthcare for children. Families may be forced to relocate to areas where infrastructure is poor or there is a lack of basic services. Many displaced children rarely have the opportunity to return to school after moving locations. Because their parents lose their livelihoods and end up as migrant daily wage labour, children of displaced families are often forced to work in order to contribute financially to their family’s survival.49 The education of girls, already a low priority in many communities, suffers further post displacement.50 Many of the villages visited in Koraput and Rayagada districts in Orissa, where a large number of families have been displaced for mining projects, had no schools, not even at the primary level. Parents cannot afford to send their children away to boarding schools, so the children are unable to attend school and instead go out to work.

The health of communities is found to deteriorate following displacement. The already marginal health status of displaced people is worsened by the stress and trauma of moving, leading to mental health problems, and problems associated with communities gaining access to safe water and sanitation create new health problems.51 Many displaced communities have problems accessing clean water. Residents of the displaced camps surrounding the NALCO project in Koraput, Orissa told researchers how water scarcity is one of the major challenges they now face. The mining company has allocated one bore well per at least 10 households in the camps in contrast to the 24-hour water supply provided to the officers of the company.52

Increasing amounts of agricultural land being turned over to mining is having a particular impact in terms of food security in a number of mining areas. Minerals tend to be located in rich fertile lands — and this agricultural land cannot be easily replaced. Although companies argue that mining operations lead to jobs and economic development, this loss of agricultural and grazing land is also leading to increased hunger and malnutrition.

In Koraput district of Orissa, 597 families have been displaced for the NALCO aluminum project. Much of the land that was lost to mining was agricultural and paddy land and the local population depended heavily on agricultural work for their survival.53 With this loss of land, the population can no longer depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and occupation patterns have changed. People now work as manual labour for companies or for government schemes and struggle to find full time work. This has also had an impact on their diet -- whereas before they would grow their own vegetables, now they cannot, and for many families it is too expensive to buy vegetables regularly from the local market.54

In Thumbli village, Barmer district, Rajasthan, numerous villagers explained how they used to grow their own vegetables, but now they have lost their agricultural land to lignite mines, vegetables no longer constitute a regular part of their diet as these are too expensive for them to buy in local markets.55 This has a severe impact on the nutrition status of children. They reported an increase in levels of child malnutrition in their village. With the highest number of malnourished children in the world — almost 50 percent of India’s children suffer from malnutrition — the loss of vegetables and other essential food groups from their diets is extremely worrying.

Amongst the population displaced by coal mining in Urimari, Jharkhand, child malnutrition rates are high. The anganwadi worker who was interviewed, explained that the majority of children she visits are malnourished. Other child health problems in the village include skin diseases, malaria and TB, but there is no medical facility there, hence a lot of dependence on superstitions.56 Non-availability or inaccessibility to health facilities in their new location only further compounds the problem. The impacts fall disproportionately on children, who are more vulnerable to health problems and require access to health care and regular check ups.

In villages visited in Koraput district, child labour figures are extremely high. According to the Census 2001, 5.67 per cent of the child population (0-14 years) are working in the district.57 However, the latest Annual Survey of Education (ASER) report, published by Pratham, found that 17 per cent of children in Koraput are out of school, showing that the district has one of the highest numbers of out of school children in the country.58 There is a high incidence of child labour around the NALCO area, although there is no child labour within the company premises. Interviews carried out in seven villages in the area, with families who have been displaced by mining, revealed that a very large number of children are working in dhabas, tea stalls, pan stalls and as domestic labour.59 People reported that school dropout rates had increased since they had been displaced, as children have to earn money for the family’s survival. According to the Displaced Peoples’ Union, between 100-200 children in the displaced peoples’ camps of Amalabadi and Champapadar are working as casual labourers. As 131 families of the Displaced Peoples’ camp are headed by widows, most of the children of these families are working as manual labour in mining and associated activities. Many of them were seen to be working in hotels, restaurants, paan stalls, and other small shops and it can be estimated that in total, around 500-1,000 children of the project affected areas are working as labourers in the local area. Many youth are also reported to have migrated to the cities of Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and other cities for livelihood.60 The rehabilitation of the community displaced by NALCO, even after almost three decades, still remains incomplete. There has been no impact assessment of the region undertaken during this period and no stock taking of the rehabilitation process, or review of the basic services provided. Particularly, there has been no assessment of the impact on children, even when a high incidence of child labour, school dropout rate and malnourishment are visibly evident.

Forced Migration

The nature of mining work means that migration becomes an essential survival strategy for people engaged in this sector. Climatic factors, market fluctuations and changes in demand for minerals mean that mining locations change regularly. With heavy monsoon rains affecting most parts of the country in the summer months, many mining and quarrying operations are discontinued or slow down during this time. Migrations tend to begin around October- November, with migrant families spending the next six to eight months at the sites before returning to their villages at the next monsoon.

Living conditions at informal mine sites – case study from Maharashtra

“We have been staying here for 10 years because it is the nearest place to the quarry sites. The houses are very small (four feet by six feet). If anyone wants to enter the house, they have to sit down and only then can they enter the house. We do not have any electricity and the water is provided by the quarry owner –- every day one tanker comes for the community. Now and then we fall sick from drinking this water.”

Source: Interview with residents at Moshi, Maharastra, September 2009.

Although there is no data to show the extent of migration for mining and quarrying work in India, evidence suggests that migration in general is increasing, and the number of children involved below 14 years may be close to nine million.61 These children are torn away from their education and social networks. Estimates suggest that somewhere between half a million to 12 million migrant labourers work in small-scale mines in India.62 Regular streams of new migrants leave the tribal belts of Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other states to seek work in the mines. Migrants comprise the most vulnerable sections of society, with the majority coming from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Mining contractors often prefer to hire migrant labour, as they are easier to control and less likely to organise. Migrant workers are not organised sufficiently to lobby and form a pressure group.63 It also enables them to hire whole families, as they may just officially employ the adult members of the family, but the parents will bring the children along to work with them.
This pattern of employment can be seen in unorganised mines and quarries across the country, from Rajasthan, to Maharashtra and Karnataka. Children interviewed in the stone quarries in Pune district, Maharashtra had come from Nepal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.64

These mining communities live an almost parallel existence, without access to services provided for the other villages in their area, such as schools, health services and ration cards. These people are not reached by the government services that they are entitled to, and are instead forced to survive without any state support. Many migrant workers do not possess Public Distribution System (PDS) ration cards and hence are forced to buy food grains and kerosene at higher market prices. Most lack any form of identification and thus find it difficult to access local services. They often face difficulty accessing education and healthcare services in the areas where they settle. In some sites in Maharashtra, the workers explained that even though they did own ration cards, the mine owner kept hold of the cards (perhaps with the intention of keeping them bonded and to stop them from leaving). A sixty-year-old woman informed the team that she finally got her ration card four months ago, but the Public Distribution System dealer had asked her to come after six months as her name was not yet entered in his records.65 The mineworkers end up spending heavily on basic food supplies and their consumption is usually far below the basic daily intake required. The diet of mineworkers’ children consists of barely two meals of rotis (bread), chillies and rarely any vegetables or dal (lentils). Hence, most of the children are malnourished and anaemic.

Right to Housing as a human right

The requisite imperative of housing for personal security, privacy, health, safety, protection from the elements and many other attributes of a shared humanity, has led the international community to recognise adequate housing as a basic and fundamental human right.

While in the international context the right to adequate housing as enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11(1) of the ICESCR provides that:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well being of himself [or herself] and his [or her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”

and that,

“The States parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realisation of this right, recognising to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.”

Further, The CRC obliges state parties to provide, in cases of need, material assistance and support programmes to families and children, particularly with regard to housing (Article27(3))

Migrants live in the worst housing conditions, often without electricity, water or even basic sanitation. The most shocking living conditions seen in mining areas in the course of this study were of migrant communities, who almost always live in makeshift accommodation close to the mining sites, or even at the sites. Houses are temporary dwellings made of plastic sheets and quarry stones packed as walls. Up to 10 family members may share a house of 8x10 feet space, or sometimes only 4x6 feet.

They also face the additional problems of resentment and hostility from local communities, who see them as outsiders and often refuse to allow them to integrate.
They may live for years around the mines, but not be accepted or recognised as part of the local community. In Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, we met with a Scheduled Tribe community who had been forced to relocate to the area in order to be close to the mining work. Despite living on this land for almost 20 years now, they were still engaged in a battle with two local villages that wanted them to be moved off this land and had not been given pattas (title deeds) for their properties.66

Across the country, children of the migrant mineworkers were found scattered all over the mine sites around the shacks looking dirty and dusty. The mine site is their home, playground and sleeping area. In all the nine sites visited in Maharashtra, we saw children looking unhealthy, suffering from coughs, colds, leaking noses, fevers and skin infections. The women said that diarrhea, jaundice and malaria are the most common child health problems as the water is contaminated and the cess–pools in the mine pits are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There is no sanitation facility, so most of the infants and younger children are seen defecating around the living quarters. For the women, sanitation is a huge problem as there are no toilets and no area for bathing.67

Education for children of seasonal migrants has not been on the radar screen of the government or development agencies, despite the fact that it is a growing phenomenon in almost all arid parts of India. Children accompany their parents when they migrate, and as a result dropout rates increase. The seasonal migration cycle — based around the monsoon period — overlaps with six to seven months of the school calendar. This means that children who do enroll can only attend school from June until October, after which they usually drop out.68 These drop out rates are often not captured by official education data, as the children get enrolled in schools for the first few months of the school session, but then drop out for the remaining months of the academic year to accompany their parents to migration sites. Over time, the learning deficit gradually causes them to drop out of school completely and work full-time.69

In Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, residents explained that school dropout rates are high because of migration. Large numbers of the community are engaged in diamond mining work. However, this diamond work is seasonal and only available six to eight months of the year, so during the other months they migrate elsewhere in the country for work. Locals complained that government schemes aimed at enabling them to remain in the district all through the year, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (NREGA), were not being implemented effectively and thus lack of available work was driving them to migrate.70 Instead, under the NREGA scheme people were only getting maybe 10 or 20 days work in a year, and there was a lot of corruption involved in determining who managed to get job cards.71

13 year old Santosh (name changed) works in a stone quarry in Moshi village of Pune district. He had to migrate with his family from Nashik and has been working in the quarry for more than a year now. He works from early morning till late in the evening breaking stones and loading them onto trucks. He has four siblings, one of whom is physically handicapped. He earns Rs. 70-90 per day, which is desperately needed to keep the family from starvation. When interviewed he said, “I always wanted to study but our family is not in a position to send us to school and now it is too late for me to dream about it. I want to work hard so that I can use my wages to send my younger brothers to school.”

Source: Interview in Moshi quarry, Pune, Maharshtra, 16th September 2009.

Similar problems were reported in the stone quarrying districts visited in Maharashtra. In 2004-05, there were 2,055 children enrolled in Santulan’s Panshan Shala -– schools in the mining areas. However, in the same year, 946 of these children migrated to other places with their family.72 In Bellary district, Karnataka, landless families are also migrating to different parts of the area for work, which is resulting in children dropping out of school and discontinuing their education.73

A study carried out by CHILDLINE, in the limestone mines of Junagarh district, Gujarat, found that 78 per cent of the out of school children who were interviewed cited migration as the major reason for dropping out. Most of the children were registered in their local village school, but could not go to the school near the mines partially due to lack of transport, but also because they could not get admission in the local school without valid documentation.74

As well as the migration cycle and consequent lack of consistency, language barriers often prevent migrant children from accessing education and healthcare in India. When migrants cross a state border, they are often unable to speak the local language — at least up to a sufficient level to study in it. Currently, only a few states, such as Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, have initiated bilingual or multilingual education strategies.

Impacts on Health

Health impacts are manifested in the lives of mining children in different ways. They are affected because their parents working in the mines fall ill or because they themselves fall ill working in mines or because they live in areas where the entire environment has been affected by mining.
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:16 am

Part 2 of 3

Children carry the burden of parents’ illness

Children suffer because they are children of miners. According to the ILO, mining is one of the three most dangerous occupations to work in along with agriculture and construction.75 Mining has long been known to cause serious health problems in its workers. Until the early 20th century, coal miners in the United Kingdom and the United States brought canaries into the mines as an early–warning signal for toxic gases such as methane and carbon monoxide. The birds, being more sensitive to these toxic gases, would become sick before the miners, thus giving them a chance to escape or to put on protective respirators. Although this practice has been discontinued, mine workers still face serious occupational health risks. There have been numerous media and NGO reports documenting how exposure to harmful dusts, gases and fumes causes respiratory diseases, and can develop into tuberculosis (TB), silicosis, pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis and emphysema after some years of exposure.76

The specific impacts of mining are diverse, depending on the nature of the minerals extracted and the extent of exploitation. Silica stone is known to cause silicosis in workers exposed to this dust. This fatal lung disease is difficult to diagnose; it is frequently misdiagnosed as TB and is incurable. The symptoms are similar to TB and mine workers often get TB treatment instead, which fails to combat this disease. In Shankargarh block of Allahabad district, Uttar Pradesh, around one in three of the 25,000 quarry workers are suffering from what they call “Shankargarh-wali TB” — many of these are probably actually suffering from silicosis, though they have not heard of the disease. The average life span for a mine worker in the area is 40 years.77 The Haryana-based group Prasar has campaigned extensively on silicosis amongst quarry workers in the state. They estimate that at one site, Lal Kuan in Uttaranchal, 3,000 quarry workers have already died of “TB.” Although the national average risk of TB infection is 1.5 per cent, in this area every second person is affected. Surveys have revealed that a number of these TB cases are indeed silicosis.78

Hundreds of migrant adivasi workers from Madhya Pradesh have reportedly died of silicosis whilst working in the quartz crushing factories in central Gujarat.79 Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board have revealed that air quality is dangerously above what is safe for workers. Yet despite stringent regulations specified for quartz crushing units by the Central Pollution Control Board, there is no system of monitoring in place and no punitive action has been taken against factory owners.80 A survey of 21 villages in Jhabua district, Madhya Pradesh, found that 489 people from 281 households were exposed to silica dust. Of these, 158 have died and 266 are ill with silicosis --
meaning that 86 per cent are either dead or incurably ill following exposure. Ninety four per cent of the deaths have occurred within three years of exposure to silica dust.81

Mining reduces life expectancy. Most mineworkers have a tragically short life span averaging between 45 to 55 years. Children working in the industry from an early age are likely to burn themselves out by the time they reach 30 or 35 years.82 Exposure to numerous health hazards at such a young age greatly lowers their longevity and quality of life. This increased morbidity among adults also forces their children to take over the economic burden of the family. In Rajasthan, many workers interviewed explained that after the age of 40, they were forced to take frequent absences from work due to TB and silicosis and life expectancy amongst mine-workers is reported to be lower than average in these areas.83

Again and again, communities across the country explained how children were forced to drop out of school in order to contribute financially to their family after their mineworker parents had become sick with illnesses such as TB and silicosis. In a village in Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, a man explained how two of his sons (who are both below 18 years) work in the stone quarries and diamond mines because he became ill with malaria and TB and can no longer work. The boys have to work in order for the family to survive and to enable them to purchase medicines.84

Children living in mining sites are victims of both the poor socio-economic status of their parents and families, as well as the difficult environment in which they live. A recent study has revealed that over 50 per cent of children working at a stone quarry in Moshi, Maharashtra have reduced lung function and all the symptoms of asthma. The study was carried out by a local paediatric doctor with 70 children, over a period of two and a half years. The doctor found that children who had been exposed to the dust for over five years were most affected, and most of these children had been exposed to the dust right from their birth.85

The doctor working with Santulan in the Wagholi stone quarries in Maharashtra said that over 40 per cent of children in this area are suffering from anaemia, as their low economic status does not allow families to access adequate nutrition.86 He treats more than 200 stone quarry workers every month for lung problems and bronchial diseases that are very common among stone quarry workers. The first stage of lung diseases is usually bronchitis, then it turns into asthmatic bronchitis and finally into acute asthma. These diseases are caused by dust inhalation.87

Private doctors taking advantage of mineworkers

In Wagholi, Maharashtra, there are more than 60 private doctors running clinics in the stone quarrying area. Often they misguide their patients by informing them that they need saline drips or injections in order to earn money from them. These daily wage labourers are desperate — if they do not work, then they don’t get paid. Therefore they believe the doctors who can give them medicines to help them to get through that day, rather than provide real treatment for their ailments.

Source: Interview with Santulan's doctor, Maharashtra, September 2009.

A study carried out by the NGO Gravis in Rajasthan found that there were two major factors that adversely affected the health of child miners: malnutrition and working in extremely hazardous conditions.88 Interviews carried out by MLPC in the Salumber Primary Health Centre in Morilla village, Udaipur district, revealed the same.89 "We do not know what we will eat tomorrow,” said a woman mine worker from the Bhuri Beri mine who was interviewed during the course of this study. In several villages, women said their children had never been weighed or measured. Very few of the children interviewed ate vegetables regularly, and none of them had fruit or dairy products. To be denied a balanced diet at such a critical age leads to chronic malnutrition and restricts their growth and full mental development, as well as making them highly susceptible to developing serious health problems in the future.90

According to people living in the iron ore mining communities of Bellary, Karnataka, both adults and children are suffering from breathing problems caused by exposure to the red dust. The most common diseases that people reported in the area are asthma and TB.91 Similar stories were heard from mine communities across the country.

Injuries and death due to accidents in mines

Mine and quarry workers across the world are particularly vulnerable to accidents. Although there have been no comprehensive studies to analyse the rate and incidence of accidents in the mining sector in India, there is no doubt that accidents in informal mines and quarries are common. Workers from the eight states interviewed in the course of the study reported that they often became injured at work and incidences of fatalities are alarmingly common.

One PHC in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, reported that they treat at least 20 mine workers every day who have come in with injuries, mostly caused from blasting work.92 Every mine worker we spoke to in Rajasthan said that they had witnessed accidents at their place of work. In Dhirampuri mining area, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, we were told that seven to eight people die in mining accidents there every year. A tribal man working in this area explained how an iron rod fell down on his chest and almost killed him. As the contractors provide no help in the event of an accident, he was taken to hospital by his brother who had been working alongside him. He spent around Rs.7,000 on medical treatment and was not able to work for a long period. As the workers are casual day labourers with no employment rights, the contractors take no responsibility for deaths or injuries caused in the workplace. In the event of death, families rarely receive compensation and injured persons are forced to take unpaid time off work and cover their own medical costs.

In Bellary district, Karnataka, the women mine workers interviewed said they had also witnessed accidents in the iron ore mines. One woman had lost her newborn baby in an accident at the site, whilst another had seen a 20-year-old pregnant woman crushed to death by rocks.93

At the age of 12, Yellappa Chaugule was left orphaned when his parents lost their lives in a stone quarry accident. He was sent to work in a quarry by his aunt to earn for his survival. However, five years back he was rescued from the quarry and is now attending a Santulan-run school.

“My name is Mohit (name changed). My age is around 16-17 years, I am not sure. I am from the village of Salarapentha. After my family lost our land for the mining company, my father became sick with tuberculosis after working for some time in the mining company, and he died. The company initially promised all the affected that jobs will be provided to all families, but so far no villager got a job. I am the highest qualified person from my village as I failed in matriculation. I work in the mines as a daily wage worker and earn Rs. 60 per day. Sometimes I earn Rs. 1,800 per month when there is full time work, but most often, work is irregular. We do not have access to drinking water, medical facilities or housing from the company. I am married and I have a lot of tension to make my family survive. So I take mahua (a type of alcohol) sometimes to beat the stress. My mother is also a victim of tuberculosis and it is very difficult to handle the expenditure on medical costs and also buy food. I was very interested in going to college but I have to support my family.”

Source: Interview carried out in Keonjhar district, Orissa, 16 February 2010

Accidents from blasting activities are common in stone quarries across India. In November 2009, a newspaper reported how five people were killed and six injured in a stone quarry blast in a “freak explosion” triggered by a lightning flash in a stone quarry at Mathur village, 15 km from Chengalpattu, in Tamil Nadu.94 A local police officer explained how similar accidents have occurred in at least two other quarries in the area. This shows how adequate safety mechanisms have not been put in place to protect people working in these quarries. Children are affected when the adults in the family die or are injured in mining accidents.

Because their bodies are growing and developing, children working in mining are at even greater risk of being injured or falling ill than adult workers. Ill health problems may not become apparent until the child worker is an adult.95 Forced to carry out work heavier than their bodies are designed to cope with, children may suffer from severe back pain, spinal injuries and other musculo-skeletal disorders. Ill health problems may not become apparent until the child worker is an adult. A study carried out amongst children working in mines in Nepal showed that the frequency of injury there is very high, with 59 per cent of these child workers explaining that they get injured very frequently, frequently or occasionally.96 Children are also forced to work under direct sunshine and are exposed to high temperatures, particularly in India where the mining and quarrying “boom” season takes place just before the monsoon, when temperatures reach over 40 degrees celsius in many parts of the country.

The CHILDLINE study of the limestone mines of Junagarh district, Gujarat, found that a large number of children working in these mines were suffering from occupational health problems, such as frequent coughs and colds as well as skin diseases. However, a lack of awareness in the community about the health hazards of mining meant that people were attributing these problems to the climate, or not knowing what was causing them to fall sick. They were not relating it to the work they were carrying out.97

Of course, because the employment of children in mining is banned, there are no records to show the number of children injured each year in mining accidents in India. However, anecdotal evidence from the mining areas suggests that accidents and injuries are common. According to a register kept by Santulan in Maharashtra, they had records of 31 cases of major mining accidents, which had taken place between 2004-07 in the Wagholi mining area, of which three cases were children. However, this data is incomplete and therefore cannot be taken as an accurate reflection of the situation of mine accidents, as records are not being maintained properly either by the mine workers, mine owners or by local organisations. Most of the time, the mine owners provide first aid and primary treatment but no long term treatment or compensation, however serious the injury. In many cases, workers have been made permanently disabled and could not continue work, which pushes the burden of family survival on the children. A women’s group in Moshi, Maharashtra told the researchers that a 15-year-old boy had recently been killed in an accident whilst working in a stone quarry nearby.98 The CHILDLINE study in Gujarat found that 30 per cent of the children interviewed had experienced accidents whilst working in the mines, mostly from breaking stones and blasting.99

Health impacts because of living near mines

Living close to the mining sites brings its own set of health problems. The most well documented is the impact of uranium mining, with the radiation known to cause serious illnesses and diseases. Although the government insists that there is no threat of radiation to local people or health hazards from the uranium mining, local residents tell a different story in Jaduguda, Jharkhand. The radioactivity associated with uranium and nuclear waste dumped in this area has been a cause of major health hazards, and severe deformities have been observed among the children of the area.100 Women living in close proximity to these uranium mines in Jaduguda, where radiation levels have been scientifically proven to be above the permissive limits, have experienced a number of reproductive health problems with high rates of miscarriages and children being born with physical and mental deformities.101 There are reports of at least 50 severely deformed children living in Jaduguda. Many of these children can neither speak nor walk and their parents remain uncertain about what has caused these problems.102 The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) insists it is not to blame and has defended its health and safety record in court. However, studies have found that congenital deformities in the area are far higher than the national average, and symptoms synonymous with health problems caused by radioactive waste.103


GURIA is a dark-eyed little girl, who lies on a rope bed in the shade of her house, waiting for her daddy to come home. She grins as she sees him, and those dark eyes light up. Her father returns his daughter's smile as he picks her up in his arms. But his eyes are filled with tears. Guria can't speak. Nor can she walk. She can't feed herself. Her hands — if you can call them hands — are bent and quiver. Her legs are useless. But her eyes reach out. Guria is seven years old.

A stone's throw from her house, another girl lies on another bed made of rope. She is 23. She is like Guria, save for the fact she also seems to be in pain. She gasps for breath; her look is anguished. She is fully dressed in her outdoor clothes, but she never goes anywhere, never has been anywhere. For 23 years this has been her life.

The parents of these girls aren't sure what's caused their daughters' plight. There are around 50 other children in the village of Jaduguda in a similar condition. ….

But the critics of the mine say it is the children who survive, for however long, who are the most damning evidence of the damage being done — children with skeletal distortions, partially formed skulls, swollen heads, missing eyes and ears, fused fingers, blood disorders, and brain damage.

Source: Mark Whitekar, Jaduguda's hapless children, The Hindu, May 06, 2006

Health workers in the cities of Punjab like Bathinda and Faridkot have also observed a sharp increase in the number of children born with birth defects — physical and mental deformities and cancers among children. Scientific tests carried out in 22 villages in the district found that uranium has contaminated milk, wheat, pulses and water.104 This groundwater contamination could have been caused by granite found in Tusham hills in Bhiwani, Haryana, as granite contains radioactive metals like uranium. Tests also revealed that the children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies -- in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit — which they believe to be caused by the power stations located close by.105

In Bellary district, Karnataka, the local population complained of breathing problems caused by dust pollution from the iron ore mines. Both adults and children also said they suffered hearing problems from the noisy blasting work.106

In Sundergarh district of Orissa, where limestone and dolomite quarrying are taking place, local communities complained of numerous health problems. According to the medical officer of the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Birmitrapur, occupational health problems are significantly higher in the area and he reported that people suffered from respiratory illnesses, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), filaria and other water borne diseases mainly due to mining activities. He also stated that there is a severe shortage of medicines in the PHC due to the high rate of illnesses, but the hospital does not get any help from the mining companies even as a social welfare cause.107 Reported cases of TB in the area have increased from 228 in 2006, to 433 in 2009.108

In Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh, the home of coal, iron ore, dolomite and limestone mining, the most common illnesses reported amongst the children were malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, skin ailments, bronchitis, gastroenteritis, abdominal pains, arthritis, jaundice and other respiratory ailments. Hydrocele is also reported to have increased in the last five years.100 Health officials working at the health centre in Korked, Raigarh, admitted that there are far more patients approaching the centre now than before, and this is due to health problems created by mining.110

There are also health problems that are found in mining areas that may not have any direct link with the mining process, but is related to the migration that takes place as a result of mining. Amongst these are reports of a high level of sexually transmitted diseases, in particular HIV and AIDS in mining communities across the world. HIV is particularly prevalent in migrant workforces, such as mining labour, and the risks workers take in the mines on a daily basis means that unprotected sex is viewed as a minor hazard.111

With communities becoming economically vulnerable, children and women are found to become particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking, and hence also sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS. In a recent survey carried out by the Jharkhand AIDS Control Society, findings reveal that mine workers are especially prone to AIDS. This is attributed to the low literacy rate and poor health facilities in these mining areas.112 In Amalabadi village, in Koraput district, Orissa, in a community that was displaced for mining activities, residents reported an increase in the spread of HIV and AIDS. They explained that they were particularly vulnerable because of their status as migrant workers and the prevalence of prostitution. There are between 100-200 HIV positive people in the village, which is considered the highest infection rate in the district.113

Loss of Access to water

Mining impacts upon access to clean water because it is an extremely water-intensive activity, and in several parts of India there have already been serious concerns relating to water shortages and the mining industry overutilising its fair share. Mining companies require water for both the extraction and processing of minerals. The mining operations, refineries and smelters all require large quantities of water. The resources for this are the dams that were originally built to provide water and irrigation for the local populations living there. Now, mining companies are diverting it for their own use.114

What is worse, not only have the mining operations taken away access to water, in many places, local communities are at the mercy of the mining companies for their water requirements. In the Urimari mining area in Jharkhand, some of the relocated villages are entirely dependent on the company to provide drinking water, as the water sources in this area are too contaminated for consumption. The water trucks usually come around midnight, so women are forced to wait around for hours at night for water to arrive.115

Some of the villages like Milupara that are close to the mine sites suffer from both water and air pollution. The villagers observed that water contamination is affecting reproductive health as children are observed to be born either weak or with some abnormalities.116 Health officials at the health centre in Korked, Raigarh, reported that fungal infections and hepatitis are on the rise, mainly due to infections from polluted water.117

In Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, most of the bauxite is located on hilltops and the water supplies in these areas are just below the deposits. This is bound to affect the health of children living in and around the mining sites. A similar story can be seen in Goa, in the iron-ore mining areas. Despite its vast network of rivers and lakes, water is becoming increasingly scarce in the state. Mining involves pumping out ground water as mine pits get filled from the aquifers below, thereby depleting the entire groundwater in the region, as was witnessed in Shirgao village of Bicholim, in North Goa. The villages around this mine have been left completely without water both for irrigation and drinking, and farmers complain that agriculture is seriously affected by this disturbance to the water table.118

Serious health problems have already been documented in some areas. The impacts of polluted and scarce water are most severe on children, who suffer from living in unhygienic conditions and from inadequate water consumption. For example, around the chromite mines in Orissa, a study revealed that chromium present in the water is causing irritation of the respiratory tract, nasal septum ulcers and pneumonia. Children with sores all over their body are also described as a common sight.119 In the mica mining areas of Andhra Pradesh, people as young as 20 are suffering from arthritis. And water contamination from the mica mines has given rise to several health hazards such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.120

In Tamil Nadu, communities living close to the lignite mines in Cuddalore district explained how earlier, they had no problems with their water supply. But now the lignite mining has gone deeper and deeper, the water supply has been affected and farmers are not getting enough water for their agricultural land. The flow of water has also changed as this has been diverted for mining. Their drinking water is now contaminated with dust, which the locals say is causing an increase in stomach problems.121

A woman interviewed in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, explained how water was so scarce in their village, that she was unable to bathe her children. Her six daughters were covered in dust and grime, and when she was asked about their health and hygiene she explained how she had so little water, she could not afford to waste it on bathing her children, but instead had to save it for drinking purposes.122

In Dhanapur, in Bellary district, Karnataka, the majority of the population was engaged in agriculture until private companies purchased land from the government and started mining there. Farmers complain that they no longer have access to water for cultivating their crops, as the mining companies are using the water for their activities. Their crops are also affected by the dust from mining. Many farmers have been virtually put out of business and have been forced to sell their land to mining companies.123

Existing legal, policy or programme interventions on health

The Mines Act, 1952, laid out guidelines for the safety of workers. It prescribes the duty of the mine owner to manage mine operations and health and safety in mines. It also lays out the number of working hours in mines, minimum wage rates and other related issues. However, whilst it is possible that this is being applied in some of the larger, formal sector mines, there is no evidence of its application in the small-scale mining sector, where the vast majority of mine labourers currently work in India.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, state that air pollution due to fines, dust, smoke of gaseous emissions during prospecting, mining, beneficiation or metallurgical operations and related activities shall be controlled and kept within “permissable limits.” However, this permissible limit is a highly debatable issue.124

Legislation to address child health problems in relation to mining is completely absent. Basic health programmes and services do not reach the children as the administrative machinery is not geared towards making local modifications to accommodate the peculiar situations of migrant and mining affected children. The PHCs are also not equipped to cope with the kind of diseases that the mining affected population are exposed to, such as silicosis. Even the barest support structures like the anganwadi centres [AWCs] that are intended to reduce child malnutrition, have found to be not functioning in many of these mining regions.

Anganwadi is a type of rural child care centre in India. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means "courtyard shelter" in Indian languages.

A typical Anganwadi centre provides basic health care in a village. It is a part of the Indian public health care system. Basic health care activities include contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as pre-school activities. The centres may be used as depots for oral rehydration salts, basic medicines and contraceptives. As of 31 January 2013, as many as 13.3 lakh (a lakh is 100,000) Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centres (AWCs/mini-AWCs) are operational out of 13.7 lakh sanctioned AWCs/mini-AWCs. These centres provide supplementary nutrition, non-formal pre-school education, nutrition and health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services of which the last three are provided in convergence with public health systems.

-- Anganwadi, by Wikipedia

Loss of Access to Education

All children have the right to elementary education. However, in mining areas across the world, children can be seen toiling away in mines and quarries as opposed to attending school. Poverty is not the only reason for this. The global economy in which we live ensures that child labour suppresses wage levels; children continue to be employed in this sector because companies can pay them less than adults to carry out the same work. Privatisation and informalisation of labour has directly led to increase in child labour, particularly in the mining industry which keeps the workers impoverished and indebted in a vicious trap. A study carried out in a mining area in Tanzania revealed that children had been forced to drop out of school due to a lack of resources. Primary schools in this area were characterised by poor facilities, such as a lack of classrooms, textbooks and other teaching equipment. The low success rate of progression from primary to secondary school meant that children ended up working in the mines because of the lack of alternatives for further education and training.125

“The main problem is the lack of education here. We are telling the government that we will give land and a building, but please give us a decent school. The mines can close anytime but if our children are educated, they can find a job elsewhere.”

Source: Mineworker, Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan, July 2009.

The problem of children accessing education in mining areas begins right from their birth. Despite an increasing recognition of the importance of early childhood care and education, these facilities are not available in many mining areas. A lack of crèche facilities and anganwadi centres in these districts means that mothers often have no alternative but to take their small children to work with them. As well as missing out on essential education and development opportunities, a mining site is one of the most hazardous places for a young child to be spending their days. ASER data reveals that several of the most heavily mined districts in the country also have some of the highest number of children aged between three to six years not enrolled in an anganwadi. In Orissa, 56.9 percent of children in Koraput and 48.3 percent of children in Rayagada are not enrolled in an AWC. And in Rajasthan, 51.4 percent of children in Jodhpur and 36.5 percent of children in Udaipur are not enrolled in an AWC.126 Among the mining communities visited in these two states, many people reported a lack of AWC facilities in their area.

One of the main villages studied in Chhatisgarh was Gare village in Tamnar Block which has a total population of 741 of which 400 are below the age of 18. The village has two primary schools, one middle school and one anganwadi centre. While the infrastructure and teaching leave much to be desired, the school set up by the Jindals is far away from the village and too expensive for the local people to send their children. Only the children of employees of Jindals, therefore, attend this school.

In Khamariah village, a mining area in Chhattisgarh, there is an AWC, but only around 10-15 children attend it regularly. This is because the AWC building is dilapidated and people said it was too dangerous for children to sit inside as the roof may collapse any time. The records say that there are 28 children enrolled, but on the day our team visited only two children were present.127 Sometimes the mining companies simply encroach into the school premises or bulldoze the schools if they hinder their mining activities like in the case of Goa, and Andhra Pradesh where the school was used as a store house by the Birla Periclase agents.128

With mines and quarries often located in remote areas, this is also compounded by a lack of or difficult access to education, particularly secondary education. The headmaster of the high school in Potanga village, Jharkhand, complained that mining activities are not good for children, as the quick money that they can earn from mining encourages them not to attend school.129

Education figures from the most heavily mined districts in India tell a worrying story. According to the most recent ASER survey by Pratham, Koraput and Rayagada districts in Orissa have some of the largest numbers of out of school children in the country, with 17.0 percent and 17.7 percent respectively of children aged 6-14 years still out of school in 2008.130 Similar statistics can be seen in other mining districts across the country. In Bellary, Karnataka, 14.1 percent of children remain out of school and in Jodhpur and Udaipur districts of Rajasthan — where thousands of people are employed in small-scale stone quarries — 12.1 per cent and 10.0 per cent of children respectively are missing out on an education completely. Mining is clearly not promoting education and development in these districts and is instead creating a culture in which children work rather than go to school.

In several districts of Rajasthan, mine workers explained how they had made financial sacrifices to send their children to school, but after several years of attending local government schools, their children were still not able to read or write due to the poor quality of the education provided and frequent teacher absences. One village in Jaisalmer district — where 90 per cent of residents work in mining -- explained how they had now given up on their government school and had set up their own private school in the village. However, not all the parents were able to afford to send their children to this school.

In the mining areas of Bellary district, Karnataka, many families explained how their economic situation was so poor that their children are forced to work rather than attend school. With the decline in mining in the area due to the economic downturn, some children have started to leave the mines and go back to school, but many others are simply forced to look for alternative sources of income for their family. Some children continue to go to school in the morning and work in the afternoon, others are only seasonal workers, whereas a large number continue to work as fulltime employees.131 Girls were particularly likely to be out of school, as parents did not recognise the importance of educating them when “they will be married in a few years anyway.”132 A number of families in Mariyammnahalli village have lost their farmland to mining. Therefore they have had to take their children out of school and send them to work. The Don Bosco Shelter in Hospet explained that parents in the mining areas are willing to send their children to school, but their economic situation was so bad that they are forced to send their children to work in the mines just to fulfill their basic need for food.133

Existing legal, policy or programme interventions in education

In September 2009, 16 years after the idea was first mooted, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 has finally been enacted by Parliament. This provides for free and compulsory education for all children in India aged between 6 to 14 years. Other key features of the Act include mandated improvements to the quality of education provided to all children. Whilst this is a positive step in the right direction, it remains unclear how this legislation will be implemented in the mining areas, where large numbers of children are still forced to work rather than attend school, and where issues of displacement and migration impact greatly on the child’s right to education.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the government’s flagship education programme aimed at achieving the universalisation of elementary education in India. However, the programme remains flawed in a number of ways. For example, the scheme’s policy of promoting parallel systems of education has meant that children across the country are being denied equal opportunity to a quality education. Although the scheme has achieved some success in terms of increasing enrollment figures, retention continues to be a huge problem, with as many as 31 per cent of children dropping out before class V. This is particularly true in rural backward areas where mines and quarries tend to be located. In addition to this, the programme has failed to yet bring real improvements to both the facilities and quality of education provided in the majority of these mining areas.

Whilst the government is still failing to provide quality education to all children in mining areas, there have been a number of NGO initiatives aimed at children in these parts of the country. In Maharasthra, the NGO Santulan has set up a number of Pashan Shala schools around the stone quarrying areas, which currently reaches 2,001 children scattered across five districts in Maharashtra, mostly the children of stone quarry workers who would otherwise be working alongside their parents. These schools have now been recognised by the state government. In Rajasthan, the organisation MLPC has established a number of crèche facilities around the mining areas in Jodhpur district to address the problem of mothers having to take their small children to work with them. These crèches currently have 650 children under 6 years of age enrolled.

Internationally, efforts to reduce child labour and promote education in mining areas have been limited or at least not widely documented. In Peru, a number of NGOs, the ILO, the Government of Peru and the U.S. Department of Labour joined forces to launch an education project to combat child labour in mining in the country. This project aimed to remove children from gold mining and place them in quality school settings.134

Increase in Child Labour

“The image of youngsters, blackened by coal dust, lugging laden carts from tunnels deep underground was one of the factors which stirred the ILO membership to adopt conventions against child labour at the start of the 20th century. Astonishingly, almost a hundred years later, that very image can still be seen in small-scale mines of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even parts of Europe.”

- ILO, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, Mining and Quarrying

Children as young as 5 years of age are working, in horrendous conditions, in mines and quarries across the world. Child labour in the mining sector is prevalent in many parts of Africa, South America and Asia. The majority are working in small scale “artisanal” mines, which tend to be unregulated and often located in remote, hard-to-reach areas. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour in mining as the “Worst Form of Child Labour,” stating that “While all forms of child labour are harmful to children, those who work in the mining sector are in particular danger, labouring in conditions that pose a serious risk to their health and well being, exposing them to serious injury or even death on a daily basis.”135

The global recession has led to an increase in small-scale mining, and thus the use of child labour, in a number of countries across the world. In 2008-09, Zambia's copper mining industry has been forced to downsize its operations. With nowhere else to go, unemployed miners have been forced into informal, artisanal mines (that were previously unable to compete with the large mines when copper prices were high) operating outside the regulatory framework with poor working conditions. As a growing number of households are feeling the effects of the recent slump in the demand for copper, children are being forced into working in these small-scale mines.136

Child labour in mining

Cold, dark and dangerous these "unofficial" and unregulated coal mines and gold mines are no places for children. Due to extreme poverty and lack of access to education, some feel they have little choice but to risk the dangers. In some mines, children work as far as 90 metres beneath the ground with only a rope with which to climb in and out, inadequate ventilation and only a flashlight or candle for light. In small-scale mining, child workers dig and haul heavy loads of rock, dive into rivers and flooded tunnels in search of minerals, set explosives for underground blasting and crawl through narrow tunnels only as wide as their bodies. In quarries, children dig sand, rock and dirt, transport it on their heads or backs, and spend hours pounding larger rocks into gravel using adult-sized tools to produce construction materials for roads and buildings.

Source:: ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Press release: Cold, dark and dangerous -- Asian children in mining, 9 June 2005.

In India, the global recession has meant that demand for minerals has reduced, and in some parts of the country mining activity has slowed down since 2008, following the “boom” years of the early 21st century. This further highlights the unsustainable nature of the work as many mine workers have suddenly found themselves unemployed. Since they work as daily wage labourers, with no contracts or employment rights, they do not receive compensation or even notice of their impending unemployment. In Bellary district, Karnataka, the local population reported that the number of child labourers in the mining sector has decreased due to reduced demand for iron and manganese since the peak period of 2000-2005. Child labour is not being reduced because of positive efforts to address the problem by the state or the mining companies; instead it is because of the overall status of mining due to recession. Many of these children have been forced to turn to other forms of work to generate an income, as opposed to being able to access education, and child labour is bound to increase again once the market improves and demand for the minerals increases.

The life of a child miner

Rani (name changed) is 10 years old and working in the sandstone mines in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She earns Rs. 70 a day, cleaning mine waste from 9am till 5pm. She works about 15 days a month because she gets tired and needs to rest, and sometimes can’t find work in the local mines. She has been to school (an NGO-run crèche) for just two days in her life. She is already addicted to gutka and fights with her mother to spend money on soap and gutka for herself.

Source: Interview carried out in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan

“My father died of some illness and therefore I had to go with my mother to the quarry,” said a 12 year-old girl in one of the mines in Maharahtra. She broke down when asked to describe her work.

Source: Interview in a stone quarry in Pune District, Maharashtra

Gutka, ghutka, guṭkha or betel quid is a chewing tobacco preparation made of crushed areca nut (also called betel nut), tobacco, catechu, paraffin wax, slaked lime and sweet or savory flavourings, in India, Pakistan, other Asian countries, and North America. It contains carcinogens, is considered responsible for oral cancer and other severe negative health effects and hence is subjected in India to the same restrictions and warnings as cigarettes. Highly addictive and a known carcinogen, gutkha is the subject of much controversy in India. Many states have sought to curb its immense popularity by taxing sales of gutkha heavily or by banning it. Gutka is manufactured in the sub-continent and exported to a few other countries, often marketed under the guise of a "safer" product than cigarettes and tobacco. Reported to have both stimulant and relaxation effects, it is sold throughout South Asia and some Pacific regions in small, individual-sized foil packets/sachets and tins that cost between 2 and 10 rupees each. It is widely consumed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Madhesh region of Nepal. Gutka is consumed by placing a pinch of it between the gum and cheek and gently sucking and chewing, similar to chewing tobacco. As with paan and other smokeless tobacco products, there are preventive efforts to encourage users to quit and young people not to start.

-- Gutka, by Wikipedia

Table 1.4: Total number of children working in mining and quarrying in India (main and marginal workers)

It is difficult to measure the number of children involved in mining, because of the remoteness, informal character of the sector and mobility factors. However, the ILO estimates that more than one million children are involved in mining across the world.137 The actual figure, though, may be much higher than this, particularly given that the ILO states that 250,000 children work in mines in Niger alone. Child labour in the mining sector is prevalent in numerous countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, where children can be found working mostly in small-scale underground and opencast mines and quarries. They work in the extraction and processing of various types of ore and minerals, including goal, silver, iron, tin, emeralds, coal, chrome, marble and stone. The ILO describes how “Today’s child miners do not work directly for big mining companies. They may work for a small local mining or quarrying concern or with their own families on small concessions near bigger mines.”138

It is impossible to give an accurate figure for the number of children working in mining and quarrying in India. According to the Census 2001, there were 45,135 children between 5-14 years working in the mining sector (see table 1.4), which means that the mining sector employs nearly 7 per cent of working children in India. Child labour figures are only disaggregated in the census up to 14 years. However, figures reveal that [there] are huge numbers of 15-19 year olds working in this sector -- 161,585 according to the Census — so there are likely to be very large numbers of children 15–18 years working in the mines. Field visits to mining areas confirmed this to be the case — this age group of children is very visible in the mines and quarries across the country as they are better able than younger to children to carry out physically demanding work.

However, the figures provided by the Census grossly underestimate the scale of the problem. Organisations working on mining in Rajasthan estimate that around 375,000 children work in the mines and quarries across that state alone. In Karnataka, estimates suggest that there are at least a few lakh139 children engaged in mining there.140 So the number of children working in mining in India is, in fact, likely to be much closer to the one million that the ILO gives as the worldwide figure. The blurring of children and women’s labour has been cited as one impediment to accurate data on children working in mining in India, as often in reports and statistics women and children are lumped together.141

“My name is Sudeep. I am working with my father here in the stone quarries since 3-4 years. Now I am 18 years old. I come from Panna village. There is no fixed rate of payment for the work I do. For digging out one plate of stone we get Rs. 70-120 per day. In a day we can take out 5-6 plates of the stone, as a group. I can say that I earn Rs.100-120 in one day. But I can only work for 12-15 days in a month as the work is very strenuous. I have never been to school”.

Source:: Interview carried out in Purna panna stone and diamond quarries, 18 August 2009

In Kallali, in Bellary district, Karnataka, large numbers of children from the Madiga community (a Scheduled Caste) are engaged in stone crushing work, prescribed to be their traditional occupation. Over 20 percent of the children aged between 8-14 years from the villages in this area are said to be working at the mining sites. According to the children interviewed, there are over 100 crushing machines in the surrounding area, and at each crushing site at least 20-25 children are working, most of them girls, earning around Rs.100-110 per day for their labor.142

In Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, locals explained how most of the boys and girls start working by the age of 10. In Bador village, the community elders said that there were about 200 children in the village, of which around 100 attend the primary school. However, they drop out by fifth grade and join the mine labour. Parents explained that as future breadwinners of families, they have to learn the work early in life.
143 At a diamond mine in Panna district, the research team found 6 children working alongside their families. Four of the children were below 12 years of age and were helping their parents throw the soil away. The parents stated that the children are enrolled in school, but they work half the day in the mines and then attend school in the afternoon.144

In Mannor village, which has a child population of around 300, only 20 are reported to be attending school. When children reach the age of 10 or 12, they join daily wage work in the diamond mines. It is claimed that only 2 children have studied up to class V in this village.

Cases of state and industry irresponsibility are seen even where a precious stone like diamond is concerned, children are working in Madhya Pradesh to find diamonds for local contractors, where the stakes are extremely high but the trade routes are deliberately made elusive. The Obulapuram mines and the child labour in Bellary is another clear example of this. The local contractors who hire child labour do not even make a pretension of hiding the facts. In Bellary they stated that they are immune from laws and regulations, which they flout openly because “it is taken care of” by the Obulapuram Mines. This reflects the arrogant defiance to law as law-keepers can be easily purchased to the highest levels of power. In most of the areas we found that mining, undoubtedly, was a dirty business with more illegal than legal modes of operation.

Poverty is often presented as the only factor that explains child labour in the mining sector. However, the actual picture is far more complex than this. A multitude of socioeconomic factors have led to a situation where, in the 21st century, large numbers of children can still be seen toiling in our mines and quarries. The systemic and deliberate reason is that child labour is cheap, and this cheap labour is welcomed by contractors in the mining and quarrying sector. Children are also compliant, easier to control and have no bargaining power. Children are often forced into mining because of the low wages received by their parents. They are pushed into the labour force in order to enable the family to survive, particularly in difficult times, such as that of family injury or illness.

Bearing in mind that many of the workers in the mining sector are migrant labourers, women also commonly migrate with their families and therefore provide a family unit of labour, which includes children.145 The lack of child-care and schools in mining areas is another factor which explains the presence of high numbers of children at mines and quarries across in India. Women as new migrants move into small mines of quarries with little or no support for looking after children, so they are forced to take their children with them to the workplace.

The continued abuse of bonded labour in the mining sector also pushes children into the mines. In Rajasthan, the high incidence of injuries and illnesses amongst mineworkers, and the lack of any health care or insurance, means that adult workers frequently get into debt, as they have to borrow from the contractors during difficult times. They are then forced to provide free labour whilst they pay off these debts. This form of bondage often becomes inter-generational, with children working to pay off the debts of their parents when they are unable to do so.

Shristhi (name changed) is 16 years old and works in a mine site. Her father, who was a mineworker, died of an illness nearly 5 years back. She has one older sister (married), a younger sister who is at home, three brothers at school and one brother older than her who also works as a mine worker. Her mother too works in the mines. Shristhi earns about Rs. 100/- a day working from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. She said that she had been working for nearly 4 years now as they needed the money to run the house. Around two to three days in a month she does not go to work as she rests at home. She suffers from leg and backache. Shristhi has never been to school.

Source: Interview in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, October 2009.

Child labour perpetuates the cycle of poverty within families. Forcing children to work below a subsistence wage, in the unsustainable work that small-scale mining and quarrying provides, greatly reduces the chance that these children will ever be able to pull themselves out of the poverty into which they were born. The risks are even greater for girls, as these sub-standard wages often force young girls into much more severe forms of exploitation, such as prostitution.146

Again and again, research shows that where children are given viable options, they wish to attend school -– and parents equally want their children educated to give them the opportunity of a better future.147 Mining is not viewed as a “desirable” form of livelihood and children working in mines are there as a last resort in terms of survival.

As well as working in the mines and quarries, there is a high incidence of other forms of child labour in the mining areas across India — in all likelihood, due to low wages and high rates of illness amongst adult mine workers. Field observations in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan confirmed that although some children are employed in paid work — in mines, agriculture or restaurants — a far greater number are involved in adult-releasing tasks or supplement adult labour.148 Such activities include herding goats, fetching water and firewood, looking after younger siblings and other domestic tasks.

An accurate analysis of child labour in the mining areas also needs to take these kinds of activities into account, as these children are still missing out on their right to education and the opportunity to attend school.
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:16 am

Part 3 of 3

Working conditions

The ILO classifies mining as one of the “worst forms of labour” because of the extent and severity of the hazards, and the risks of death, injury and disease.149 Children work long hours without any form of protective equipment, clothing or training. They are exposed to extreme temperatures with no protection from the sun. As well as lung diseases caused by inhaling dusts and gases, child miners often suffer physical strain, fatigue and muscular-skeletal disorders due to the heavy work involved. As their bodies are still growing and developing, they face greater dangers and risk of damage than adult labour in this sector. Many of the injuries and health problems may result in permanent disability — and these health problems may not become apparent until the child worker is an adult.150

Working conditions in the informal mining sector across the world are notoriously poor, and the situation in India is no different. The unorganised sector remains outside the purview of legal protection in terms of labour conditions, so the majority of the labourers work in dangerous, unregulated conditions. Pay varies across the sector and across states, but is always low and generally lower than the minimum wage of that state. In addition to this, the casual nature of the work means that there are no employment benefits such as sick pay, paid holidays or health insurance, so workers often end up in debt during difficult times, such as periods of ill health.

Conditions in small-scale mines and quarries are almost always extremely primitive. Mining contractors provide nothing to make the workers lives more bearable. None of the sites visited in the course of the study had toilets or drinking water. The lack of sanitation is particularly challenging for women and girls. No shade or shelter is provided at the sites, meaning that children are forced to work in long hours with no protection at all from the sun. Despite the prevalence of accidents, we are yet to come across a mine where the contractors provide anything in the wear of protection, such as helmets or face-masks, to workers and the lack of first aid facilities at the site means that in the event of an accident or illness, workers are often forced to travel long distances to the nearest healthcare centre.

Legal framework for Child Labour

There is no blanket ban against child labour in India. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits the engagement of children in certain employments and regulates the conditions for work for children in certain other employments. The list of hazardous forms of employment has been added to on several occasions since the Act was passed in 1986, but mining and collieries are the only forms of mining included on the original list. Article 24 of the Constitution of India, drafted in 1950, states that: "No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment." Despite this, 60 years after the Constitution came into effect, thousands of children across India continue to work in mines and quarries.

The government’s response to the situation has previously been to argue that as it is illegal, child labour in the mining sector is not a problem. And they continue to live in denial.
This is evident from the answers to the parliament raised on questions related to child labour in mining. This happened when a question was raised in 2003,151 and has been the same later too. In 2005 the Minister of Labour and Employment was asked the Government's reaction to International Labour Organisation (ILO) observation that there are one million children aged between 5 and 17 presently toiling in mines and quarries all over the world; if so, what is the reaction of the Government in this regard; whether the Government had ascertained the exact number of children aged between 5 and 17 toiling in mines and quarries in the country; if so, the details thereof; and the efforts being made to remedy the situation?

The Minister, Sri Chandra Shekhar Rao replied that there is no reference to India in the said report. He added that mining occupations have already been prohibited as hazardous occupation under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986. What is more he replied that occupation-wise data of child labour in the country is not maintained. (This is surprising since the Census 2001 data quoted in Table 1.4 gives this information.) He added that the Government is implementing the National Child Labour Project Scheme for the withdrawal and rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes. The Scheme involves enrolling the working children in special schools and providing them education, vocational training, nutrition, health care, stipend, etc. and finally, mainstreaming them into regular schools.152

lakh: a hundred thousand.
"they fixed the price at five lakhs of rupees"

In the very same year, based on the fact finding in the iron ore mines of Hospet and Bellary, that was a precursor to the current effort, the Minister for Labour was once again asked about whether several lakh children are still working in the mines throughout the country and a large number of them starting from the age of five, working in the most hazardous conditions and leading a horrible existence as (reported in the Hindu dated May 16, 2005) and whether the school dropout rate is high in mining regions of the country; and whether there is a demand to conduct an enquiry in all the mines in the country and to come up with a comprehensive report on child labour. The honourable Minister replied saying that it is not true that several lakh children are working in mines in Karnataka as reported in the Hindu dated May 16, 2005.

He further reiterated that the use of child labour working in mines is prohibited under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 since working in mines has been identified as a hazardous occupation and any employer employing children below the age of 14 in mines is liable to penal action which includes imprisonment.

He said that instructions to enforce strictly the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act in the entire country for all hazardous occupations including working in mines for children has been conveyed to all the state governments including the Government of Karnataka and that the government is very serious in effective enforcement of the Act and in the implementation of the National Child Labour Projects in the country. “Mining is a very widespread activity in the country and it takes place both in the organised sector and in the unorganised sector. There is no evidence to indicate that the school drop out rates amongst children working in mines is higher than the general drop out rates in the other areas in the country” he added.153

The National Child Labour Project (NCLP) is the oldest scheme of the government to address child labour and was initiated in 1988, to target children working in hazardous occupations in the child labour endemic districts. The scheme involves establishing Special Schools for rescued child labourers and provides children with a stipend of Rs.100 a month, as well as nutrition, vocational training and regular health check ups. The coverage of the NCLP scheme increased to 250 districts during the Tenth Plan, and now includes a number of areas where there is widespread mining, such as districts in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan. The NCLP scheme has been heavily criticised for its failure to reach the number of children necessary. Of the 150 districts sanctioned under the Tenth Plan, projects have still only been sanctioned in 86 of these districts, and although the scheme has now been officially increased to a total of 250 districts, this still only covers half the country.154
Whilst we know that there are huge numbers of children across the country still engaged in hazardous forms of labour, as of May 2007, only 392,413 children have been mainstreamed through the NCLP scheme.155

It was a shocking discovery during the field visits that there are hardly any NCLP schools operating in the areas where mining-affected children live. In most places, it is the local NGOs who are providing these facilities either in the case of Pashan Shalas in Pune district of Maharashtra or in the form of Tent schools run in Bellary and Sandur districts in Karnataka.

In addition to the national laws on child labour in the mining sector, there are several international conventions which relate to this form of labour. The guiding international framework for child rights is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was signed by India in 1992. Article 32 of the Convention states:

“States Parties recognise the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.” 156

In spite of this agreement, children continue to be employed in hazardous work in mines and quarries across the country. India has also ratified the ILO Convention C123 Minimum Age (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 in 1975, which bans children under 16 years from working in underground mines.

Ajit (name changed) hails from Dom Koral village of Tikiri. He is 17 years old. As his father died five years ago, he was forced to take on the entire burden of the family and become the sole breadwinner. He works as a manual labourer under different contractors in mining activities and earns around Rs.60 a day. He stated that the mining work is erratic due to the community protests and strikes, and hence his earnings are irregular. “I do odd jobs at the mine site as there is construction work going on. Work is very tough and therefore, I have gradually become addicted to liquor and gutka -- I can’t help it”.

Source: Interview carried out in Dom Koral, Kasipur, Orissa, 13 June 2009.

Efforts to address child labour in mining

Although some efforts have been made by NGOs and the ILO to address the problem of child labour in the mining sector across the world, this continues to be a neglected area — perhaps due to the lack of quantitative data on the scale of the problem. The ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) has adopted mining and quarrying as one of its global areas of focus, due to the dangerous nature of the work. Pilot projects undertaken by ILO-IPEC in Mongolia, Tanzania, Niger and the Andean countries of South America have shown that the best way to assist child miners is to work with the children’s own communities.157 The IPEC programme explains how mining and quarrying communities have been helped to organise co-operatives and to improve their productivity by acquiring machinery, thus eliminating or reducing the need for child labour. However, the ILO recognises that while projects on the ground can assist child miners in a practical way, only worldwide awareness of the problem can mobilise the international effort that is needed to end the practice for good.158

In India, the ILO–IPEC programme initiated a project in Andhra Pradesh to eliminate child labour in the state, and a component of this was focused on reducing the number of children working in slate mines and factories in the state.159

The National Child Labour Programme (NCLP) is the flagship programme of the government to eliminate child labour in hazardous situations. In the case of mining children there are two problems related to this: 1) Since not all mining occupations are listed as hazardous, all child labour in mines is not covered by this programme. 2) where they exist, they do not tend to function effectively. As is now the practice, most government programmes are run by NGOs. In this case they are run by NGOs with very small funds and so they are run badly and with little motivation. Since there is little or no proactive motivation from government labour departments to identify areas that have child labour, it all depends on the motivation of the local NGO, if there is any.

Increased vulnerability to violence and abuse

The majority of mining areas are not safe environments for a child to grow up in. There are many social problems associated with mining operations. Numerous reports across the world have documented how mining activity is often accompanied by the widespread availability and consumption of alcohol, an increase in gambling and the introduction or increase in prostitution. Violence, alcohol-induced and domestic, may increase.160 Very difficult working and living conditions, and the uncertainties of life, can encourage excessive alcohol consumption habits amongst quarry workers. Alcoholism is prevalent, particularly in male mineworkers, and in some cases leads to domestic violence and the ill-treatment of children.161 Amongst the population displaced for the Urimari coal mining project in Jharkhand, alcoholism has risen. One woman explained that alcoholism has increased since the mining started and that 80 per cent of the family income is now spent on alcohol.162

Mining sites are rough places to live and work. Some children become engaged in prostitution and they are also confronted by problems related to alcohol and drug abuse, and violence.163 The ILO highlights how the mining environment often becomes a degrading social environment, with increasing levels of prostitution and criminality, as well as an erosion of family and social structures.164 Alcoholism amongst male workers has been identified as a major issue in Rajasthan. In Budhpura, Bundi district, illicit alcohol is supplied to labourers at a subsidised rate, which promotes alcoholism.165

In Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, women mineworkers explained that alcoholism is rampant among men and some women. Men, women and children are all addicted to chewing gutka (a chewable form of tobacco). The reasons they give for this is to ease the physical tiredness and pain experienced after a hard day’s work.166 Consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs by child mineworkers is a significant problem.
A study carried out in Jodhpur and Makrana in Rajasthan, found that 60 per cent of the child labourers interviewed were dependent on ghutka, tobacco and alcohol.167

Tikripada village in Keonjhar district, Orissa, consists of a population of 1,200, mostly from Scheduled Tribes. Since all the families in the village lost their agricultural land for mining, and they are now forced to work as daily wage labour for mining contractors, social problems have increased in the village. With the influx of external migrant populations, such as truck drivers, youth in the village have now become vulnerable to addictions to alcohol and gutka, and crimes such as theft have increased. A large increase in the number of liquor stores in the area since the introduction of mining has meant that men, women and young children have all become dependent on alcohol, which they claim is due to heavy work load in the mines.168

Mining areas often coincide with the parts of the country most affected by child [girl] trafficking. One example is the case of Sundergarh district in Orissa, which has a serious problem in terms of trafficking, particularly of young girls. It was estimated by a survey conducted by the Rourkela Social Service Society that every day there is trafficking of at least 20 girls to cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. At least 7,000 girls were trafficked each year from Sundergarh district according to their survey. The main reasons for this high incidence of trafficking are stark poverty, indebtedness created by mining and other industries, and the nonimplementation of developmental schemes in the areas. As industrialisation, in particular mining, has spread rapidly in the district, adivasis, who form a majority of the population have become vulnerable to migration and trafficking. The district also has an alarming rate of unwed mothers and prostitution.

In addition to these social problems and abuses, child mineworkers face violations in terms of their rights to leisure and recreation. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly recognises the right of every child to rest and leisure, and to engage in play and recreational activities.169 However, the concept of free time and recreation is almost absent from the daily lives of children working in mining and quarrying. 170


The findings in this study paint a frightening picture of children’s rights in mining areas across the country. Because there is so little information available mining children live where they have no way of proving the number of stones they break, the number of debts they repay, the number of nights they starve, the numbers that have lost their parents or watch them dying each day with tuberculosis or silicosis, the numbers who are victims of the rape of their bodies and the pain of their souls.

Malnourished, denied access to education, and living and working in dangerous conditions, India’s “mining children” are leading horrendous lives. Previously unexplored, and therefore inevitably neglected, the links between children and mining have not yet been taken seriously by either policy-makers or activists. It is hoped that this report will provide the basis for further action and advocacy work on these issues, to ensure that children’s rights no longer be violated by the mining sector.
The report also provides evidence, once again, that profits from mining do not simply ‘trickle down’ and benefit the local community. Instead, the situation of children living in the parts of the country wealthiest in natural resources is abysmal. The central government, state governments, mining companies and nongovernmental organisations need to work together to ensure that these children are no longer denied their basic rights, and to ensure that the development, so promised by the government and the mining sector, becomes a reality for all.

Key Findings

The significant findings from this national study point to eight most critical areas of concern with respect to upholding the rights of India’s children vis-à-vis mining. These are:

1. Increased morbidity and illness.

2. Increased food insecurity and malnutrition.

3. Increased vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.

4. Violation of Right to Education.

5. Increase in child labour.

6. Further marginalisation adivasi and dalit children.

7. Migrant children are the nowhere children.

8. Mining children fall through the gaps and there is urgent need to amend laws, policies and programmes to address their specific rights and entitlement.

Responsible mining and responsibility towards local communities is not visible in India. Therefore, the fear that exists in the hearts of the communities and public is whether private companies can ever be made accountable if the public sector has no record of best practices. With India’s thrust for the future being privatisation of mining projects, there is little hope for sustainable mining to be implemented with seriousness, in the absence of best practices from the public sector and the looming gaps that exist in the law and regulatory mechanisms.

The corporate induced conflicts and state of terror in these regions, particularly in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were visible all through the study where data collection was interrupted several times due to strikes, bandhs, non cooperation of local communities due to fear of police and industry repercussions, and the inability to travel without fear of violence.

A lot depends on the political will, public accountability and bureaucratic transparency. A lot also depends on a nation’s conscience. Unless the collective conscience of policy makers, the mining companies and the general public is awakened to the harsh reality of the lives of the mining children and the price they pay for the glamour, the glitter and the development and growth that mining brings, nothing will change.



19. Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India, Selected State-wise Average Daily Earnings of Workers in Mining Industries by Sex-Age in India, 2007.

20. Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government 20. of India, Selected State-Wise Average Daily Employment and Number of Reporting Mines in India, 2002 – 2005.

21. Interviews with mineworkers, Mariyammnahalli, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

22. Interview with Mr. Bastu Rege, Director, Santulan, September 2009.

23. Interviews carried out in Hospet area, Bellary, Karnataka, June 2009.

24. Interviews with residents of Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan, July 2009.

25. Samata, Fifth Schedule Areas,, uploaded: 11 December 2009.

26. Shanti Sawaiyan, Forcible Displacement and Land Alienation is Unjust: Most of the Forcibly Displaced in Jharkhand are Adivasis, A paper for the III International Women and Mining Conference, 2004.

27. Tata AIG Risk Management Services Ltd, Rapid environmental impact assessment report for bauxite mine proposed by Sterlite Industries Ltd near Lanjigarh, Orissa, August 2002, p. 7 of the executive summary.

28. For a full overview on Scheduled Tribe children and education, see Status of Children in India: 2008, published by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.

29. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Chapter on Elementary Education (SSA and Girls Education) for the XI th Plan Working Group Report, 2007, pp. 14.

30. For a full overview on Scheduled Tribe children and health, see Status of Children in India: 2008, published by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.

31. Paradox of Hunger amidst Plenty. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, on his Mission to India (August 20-September 2, 2005. Combat Law Volume 5 Issue 3. June-July 2006.

32. Samatha, A Study on the Status and Problems of Tribal Children in Andhra Pradesh, 2007.

33. Carlos D. Da Rosa, James S. Lyon, Philip M. Hocker, Golden Dreams, Poisoned Streams, Published by Mineral Policy Center, August 1997.

34. Bhanumathi Kalluri, Ravi Rebbapragada, 2009, Displaced by Development - Confronting Marginalization and Gender Injustice - The Samatha Judgement - Upholding the Rights of Adivasi Women, Sage Publications.

35. Vidhya Das, Human Rights, Inhuman Wrongs – Plight of Tribals in Orissa, Published in Economic and Political Weekly, 14 March 1998.

36. Government of India, National Mineral Policy, 2008.

37. See case study report on NALCO project-affected community in Koraput, Orissa.

38. Vedanta response to Survival International media statement, 20 August 2008, published in the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre website.

39. Samatha, People’s Struggle Against Utkal Alumina Plant in Kasipur, 2002.

40. Se UNICEF, Displaced Children, ... ldren.html, uploaded: 10 February 2010.

41. Theodore E. Downing, Avoiding New Poverty: Mining-Induced Displacement and Resettlement, April 2002, pp. 14.

42. The Guardian, Gethin Chamberlain, Vedanta versus the villagers: the fight for the sacred mountain, 12 October 2009.

43. Ibid.

44. Interviews carried out in mining-affected communities in Urimari coal mining area, Jharkhand, September 2009.

45. Ibid.

46. Interviews in mining-affected communities in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, August 2009.

47. Interviews with mineworkers, Mariyammnahalli, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

48. Interview with Child Rights Trust, Hospet, Karnataka, June 2009.

49. Bhanumathi Kalluri, Ravi Rebbapragada, 2009, Displaced by Development " Confronting Marginalisation and Gender Injustice – The Samatha Judgement " Upholding the Rights of Adivasi Women, Sage Publications.

50. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Internal Displacement in India, November 2007, ... ssion1/IN/ IDMC_IND_UPR_S1_2008_InternalDiscplacementMonitoringCenter_uprsubmission.pdf; uploaded: 14 October 2009.

51. Theodore E. Downing, Avoiding New Poverty: Mining-Induced Displacement and Resettlement, April 2002, pp. 11.

52. Interviews in Damanjodi, Orissa, June 2009.

53. Interviews in mining-affected communities in Koraput district, Orissa, June 2009.

54. Ibid.

55. Interviews in Thumbli village, Barmer district, Rajasthan, July 2009.

56. Interviews in mining-affected communities in Urimari coal mining area, Jharkhand, September 2009.

57. Census of India, 2001.

58. Pratham, Annual Status of Education, 2008.

59. Interviews in mining-affected communities in Koraput district, Orissa, June 2009.

60. Ibid.

61. Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity, Distress Seasonal Migration and its Impact on Children’s Education, May 2008, p. 1, 2.

62. Sudhershan Rao Sarde, Regional Representative, IMF-SARO, Migration in India: Trade Union Perspective in the Context of Neo-Liberal Globalisation, p. 2.

63. Ibid, p. 5.

64. Interviews with child mineworkers, Pune district, Maharashtra, September 2009.

65. Interviews in Moshi stone quarrying area, Maharashtra, September 2009.

66. Interviews with mineworkers, Bhat Basti, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, July 2009.

67. Visits to mine sites, Maharashtra, September 2009.

68. Ibid, p. 2.

69. Ibid, p. 34.

70. Interviews with mining-affected communities, Panna, Madhya Pradesh, August 2009.

71. Ibid.

72. Interview with Santulan, Maharashtra, September 2009.

73. Interviews with mineworkers, Bellary, Karnataka, June 2009.

74. CHILDLINE India Foundation, Living with Stones – Children of the mines, part of the Children at Risk report series, 2008.

75. ILO, Eliminating Child Labor in Mining and Quarrying: Background Document, 12 June 2005.

76. MLPC, Broken Hard, ... enhard.pdf, uploaded: 11 February 2010.

77. Frontline, Annie Zaidi, Silent Victims of Silicosis, 4 November 2005, ... 009200.htm, uploaded: 19 October 2009.

78. Ibid.

79. Economic and Political Weekly, Amita Baviskar, Contract Killings: Silicosis among Adivasi Migrant Workers, 21 June 2008.

80. Economic and Political Weekly, Amita Baviskar, Contract Killings: Silicosis among Adivasi Migrant Workers, 21 June 2008.

81. Ibid.

82. Gravis, Tales of Woe: A Report on Child Labour in the Mines of Jodhpur and Makrana, March 2004, p. 12.

83. Interviews with mining-affected communities, Rajasthan, July 2009.

84. Interview with former mineworker, Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, September 2009.

85. The Times of India, 50 per cent children at Moshi quarry have asthma, 18 November 2009, ... ildren-at- Moshi-quarry-have-asthma/articleshow/5241904.cms.

86. Ibid.

87. Interview with Santulan doctor, Wagholi, Maharasthra, September 2009.

88. Gravis, Tales of Woe: A Report on Child Labour in the Mines of Jodhpur and Makrana, March 2004, p. 20.

89. MLPC interview with Salumber PHC, Morilla village, Udaipur district, October 2009.

90. Gravis, Tales of Woe: A Report on Child Labour in the Mines of Jodhpur and Makrana, March 2004, p. 20.

91. Interviews with mineworkers, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

92. Interview with nurse, Fidusar Chopar Primary Healthcare Centre, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, July 2009.

93. Interviews with mineworkers, Bellary district, Karnataka, August 2009.

94. Express Buzz, Dennis Selvan, Five killed in stone quarry blast, 20 November 2009, ... led+in+sto ne+quarry+blast&artid=8%7CXU1eGNYq8=.

95. ILO, Eliminating Child Labor in Mining and Quarrying: Background Document, 12 June 2005.

96. Ibid.

97. CHILDLINE India Foundation, Living with Stones – Children of the mines, part of the Children at Risk report series, 2008.

98. Interviews carried out in Moshi, Maharashtra, September 2009.

99. CHILDLINE India Foundation, Living with Stones – Children of the mines, part of the Children at Risk report series, 2008.

100. Ranjan K. Panda, Undermining Development, 2007, ... pment.html, uploaded: 20 October 2009.

101. mines, minerals and PEOPLE, Impacts of Mining on Women’s Health in India, 15 April 2003.

102. BBC News, Mark Whitaker, Living next to India’s uranium mine, 4 May 2006.

103. India Environment Portal, Aparna Pallavi, Uranium mine waste imperils villages in Jaduguda, 14 March 2008.

104. India Environment Portal, Savvy Soumya Misha, Uranium in food, water in Bathinda, 30 April 2009.

105. The Observer, India’s generation of children crippled by uranium waste, Gethin Chamberlain, 30 August 2009.

106. Interviews with mining-affected communities, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

107. Interviews with health officials, Sundergarh district, Orissa, November 2009.

108. Data provided by the CHC, Birmitrapur, Sundergarh, Orissa, November 2009.

109. Interviews with mining-affected communities, Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh, November 2009.

110. Interviews with health officials, Korked, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, November 2010.

111. Stablum, A., Reuters, Is HIV a timebomb under the mining industry?, 18 July 2007.

112. Saboo, S., Telegraph India, Mineworkers ‘prone’ to AIDS, 29 July 2009.

113. Interviews in Amalabadi village, Koraput district, Orissa, June 2009.

114. Presentation by Ravi Rebbapragada, Samata, New Delhi, August 2008.

115. Interviews in mining-affected communities in Urimari coal mining area, Jharkhand, September 2009.

116. Ibid.

117. Interviews out with health officials, Korked, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, November 2010.

118. E. Bild, CorpWatch, Goa Cursed By Its Mineral Wealth, April 2009.

119. mines, minerals and PEOPLE, Impacts of Mining on Women’s Health in India, 15 April 2003.

120. Ibid.

121. Interviews in mining-affected communities, Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, August 2009.

122. Interviews in Bhat Basti, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, October 2009.

123. Interviews with farmers in Dhanapur, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

124. Background Paper by mines, minerals and People (MMP) for the Indian Women and Mining seminar, Impacts of Mining on Women’s Health in India, April 2003.

125. ILO, Eliminating Child Labor in Mining and Quarrying: Background Document, 12 June 2005.Pratham, Annual Survey of Education, 2008.

126. Pratham, Annual Survey of Education, 2008.

127. Interview with anganwadi worker, Khamariah village, Chhattisgarh, November 2009.

128. Bhanumathi Kalluri, Campaign Against Illegal Mining – Experience of Samatha and the Tribals of Anantagiri, 1997.

129. Interview with headmaster, Potanga village high school, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, September 2009.

130. Pratham, Annual Survey of Education, 2008.

131. Interviews with female mineworkers, Bellary district, Karnataka, August 2009.

132. Interviews with mineworkers, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

133. Interview with director, Don Bosco Shelter, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

134. Pamela Baldwin, The impact of education in Peru’s gold mining communities, 26 October 2006,

135. ILO, Digging for Survival: The Child Miners, 2005.

136. ILO, The global crisis and rising child labour in Zambia’s mining communities: Are we facing a downward decent work spiral?, 10 August 2009.

137. ILO, Digging for Survival: The Child Miners, 2005.

138. Ibid.

139. One lakh is equal to 100,000.

140. Fact-finding Team, Our Mining Children, April 2005. ... report.pdf, uploaded: 10 February 2010.

141. K. Lahiri-Dutt, Digging to Survive: Women's Livelihoods in South Asia's Small Mines and Quarries, 2008.

142. Interviews with children, Kallali, Bellary district, Karnataka, June 2009.

143. Interviews with mining-affected community, Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, September 2009.

144. Interviews at diamond mine, Panna district, Madhya Pradesh, September 2009.

145. K. Lahiri-Dutt, Digging to Survive: Women's Livelihoods in South Asia's Small Mines and Quarries, 2008.

146. Gravis, Tales of Woe: A Report on Child Labour in the Mines of Jodhpur and Makrana, March 2004, p. 16.

147. Ibid; and field interviews in mining-affected communities across India, 2009.

148. MLPC, Broken Hard, ... enhard.pdf, uploaded: 11 February 2010.

149. ILO, Eliminating Child Labour in Mining and Quarrying, 2005.

150. Ibid.

151. Fact-finding Team, Our Mining Children, April 2005. ... report.pdf, uploaded: 10 February 2010.

152. Lok Sabha starred question No.19 answered on 25.07.2005

153. Lok Sabha Starred Question No. 208. Answered on 8.08.2005

154. HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, Still Out of Focus: Status of India’s Children, 2008.

155. Information accessed on; Compiled from the statistics released by Rajya Sabha Unstarred Question No. 3759, dated on 09.05.2007. and Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 994, dated on 20.08.2007 and Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 2415, dated on 03.12.2007.

156. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 32.

157. ILO, Digging for Survival: The Child Miners, 2005.

158. Ibid.

159. ILO, ... dia/p2.htm, uploaded: 24 August 2009.

160. Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Project, Breaking new ground: mining, minerals and sustainable development, 2002.

161. K. Lahiri-Dutt, Digging to Survive: Women’s Livelihoods in South Asia’s Small Mines and Quarries, South Asian Survey 15:2, 2008, p. 217 – 244.

162. Interviews carried out in mining-affected communities in Urimari coal mining area, Jharkhand, September 2009.

163. ILO, Eliminating Child Labour in Mining and Quarrying, 12 June 2005, p. 11.

164. Ibid, p. 16.

165. P. Madhavan and Dr Sanjay Raj, Budhpura ‘Ground Zero’ Sandstone quarrying in India, December 2005.

166. Interviews carried out with women mineworkers, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, October 2009.

167. Gravis, Tales of Woe: A Report on Child Labour in the Mines of Jodhpur and Makrana, March 2004, p. 20.

168. Interviews carried out in Tikripada village, Keonjhar, Orissa, February 2010.

169. United Nations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 31.

170. ILO, Eliminating Child Labour in Mining and Quarrying, 12 June 2005, p. 17.
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

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Part 1 of __

Part II: State Reports

1. Karnataka
2. Maharashtra
3. Rajasthan
4. Madhya Pradesh
5. Chhattisgarh
6. Jharkhand
7. Orissa
8. Andhra Pradesh


State Overview

The population of Karnataka in 2001 was 52,850,562, of which two-thirds live in rural areas.1 In 2007-08, the state had an estimated (Gross State Domestic Product) GSDP of Rs. 2,152.82 billion.2 Karnataka was the fastest growing state over the past decade in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita GDP. With GDP growth of 56.2 per cent and per capita growth of 43.9 per cent, Karnataka now has the sixth highest per capita GDP growth of all states.3

Since the 1980s, Karnataka became the Information Technology (IT) hub of India with more than 2,000 IT firms operating out of the state. Karnataka is also the manufacturing hub for some of the largest public sector industries in India, such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), and is the headquarters of many of India’s science and technology research centres. The major manufacturing industries in the state include sugar, paper, silk and cement.

However, over half (56 per cent) of the workforce is engaged in agriculture and related activities.4 Around 64.6 per cent of the state’s total area is cultivated and 19 per cent of the state is covered by forest. The main crops grown in the state include rice, maize, pulses, chillies, sugarcane and tobacco. Karnataka is the largest producer of coarse cereals, coffee and raw silk in India. The agricultural sector has slowed down in recent years though in the state, largely due to continuous droughts and less priority given to it.

There are wide disparities in terms of income and living standards across Karnataka’s districts. Around 25 per cent of the total population live below the poverty line. This rises to 32.6 per cent in urban areas of the state. For Scheduled Castes (SCs), over half (50.6 per cent) in urban areas live below the poverty line. The overall literacy level in the state is higher than the Indian average, at 67 per cent. However, literacy rates are much lower for the SC and Scheduled Tribe (ST) populations. Only 33.32 per cent of rural ST women and 35.56 per cent of rural SC women are literate.5 The northeast region of the state (also known as Hyderabad Karnataka) which comprises five districts—Bellary, Bidar, Koppal, Gulbarga and Raichur—and that has most of the mineral resources remains particularly backward.

In terms of employment trends, there is a drop in overall employment rates within the organised sector in recent years, suggesting a greater dependency on the unorganised sector. Employment rates have decreased in a number of sectors such as agriculture, mining and utilities. The growth of marginal workers increased at a rate of 161.5 per cent between 1991 and 2001 indicating that increasing numbers of people have become part of the unorganised and marginalised workforce.

The state is also facing major challenges in terms of basic health. Whilst Karnataka is now emerging as a destination for ‘health tourism’, with its state-of-the-art speciality hospitals in Bengaluru (earlier known as Bangalore), the provision of basic healthcare to its population remains uneven. The 2005 Karnataka Human Development Report recognises that inaccessibility of healthcare and the inability to spend on healthcare increases the vulnerability of ‘sub-populations’ such as the poor, women, SCs and STs, all of whom are at greatest risk of ill-health.6 Malnutrition amongst pregnant women and infants also remains extremely common, and rates of HIV infection are a cause of great concern in the state. The rapid increase of HIV cases in Karnataka has been alarming; during 2002-03, the rate of infection increased by 106 per cent.7 According to the most recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report (NFHS-3), Karnataka is in the top five states in the country in terms of HIV prevalence, with an estimated 1.25 per cent of the population infected.8

Status of Children

There are 16,845,601 children aged 14 years and under, and 22,227,273 children aged 19 years and under in Karnataka; these children constitute almost 40 per cent of the total population in the state. According to official statistics, there were 72,967 children between six to 14 years who are out of school in the state in 2008.9 However, Pratham’s Assessment Survey Evaluation Report (ASER) 2008 survey estimates that the actual number of children out of school in the state is higher than this and amounts to 3.6 per cent of the total child population. There are wide geographical disparities across the state in terms of the number of children out of school. Whilst in Bengaluru rural, only 0.2 per cent of children are estimated to be out of school, this rises to 14.1 per cent in Bellary district and 13.6 per cent in Gulbarga district, showing that the state needs to urgently address access to education issues in the Hyderabad Karnataka region.10

According to the Census 2001, there were 822,615 child labourers (aged 14 years and under) and 2,952,545 children 19 years and under working in the state.11 However, official statistics for the number of children employed in hazardous occupations are completely unrealistic with only 1,634 officially engaged in this kind of work.12 In mining and quarrying alone, there were 4,669 children 14 years and under, and 18,276 in the 19 years and under category employed in this sector, according to the Census.13 The actual number of children working in the unorganised mining and quarrying sector in the state is far higher than these statistics with one fact-finding mission discovering ‘at least a few lakh’ children working in the iron ore mines in Bellary district.14 A total of 17 districts in the state are currently covered by National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and up until May 2007 11,589 children had apparently been rehabilitated under this scheme.15

There are wide variations in terms of child health across the state. The 2005 Karnataka Human Development Report observed that rural-urban disparities have actually intensified in the state; the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is 64 (per 1,000 live births) in rural areas, as compared to 24 in urban areas.16 Again, IMR is higher in the Hyderabad Karnataka region. Only 55 per cent of children aged between 12 and 23 months had received all their basic vaccinations in Karnataka as compared to the neighbouring states of Kerala, where 75.3 per cent had received all vaccinations, and Tamil Nadu where 80.9 per cent had received them.17 This shows that despite its rapid economic growth, huge challenges remain in terms of child health in the state.

Mining in Karnataka

The value of mineral production in Karnataka during 2007- 08 was Rs. 44.95 billion.18 This was an increase of 23 per cent from the previous year. However, the number of reporting mines in the state fell from 231 to 218 during the same period. Karnataka is the main gold producing state in the country. It is also the sole producer of felsite and the leading producer of iron ore, chromite and dunite. The state hosts 78 per cent of India’s vanadium ore, 74 per cent of iron ore, 42 per cent of tungsten ore, 38 per cent of asbestos, 33 per cent of titaniferous magnetite and 30 per cent of limestone, as well as less significant proportions of a number of other minerals.19
Iron ore mining in Hospet (Photo- June 2009)

According to statistics provided by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Karnataka, mining and quarrying has increased as a percentage of the total contribution to the state’s GDP but only marginally—from a 0.5 per cent share in 1999 to a one per cent share in 2007- 08.20 This shows that despite the amount of land that has been turned over to mining (which totalled over 11,046 ha between 1980 and 2008)21 and the number of people affected by mining and quarrying in the state, its contribution to the state’s GDP still remains marginal. In terms of employees, around 14,200 people were officially employed in 199 reporting mines in 2005—a slight increase from 13,200 in 2002.22

Mining is generating little wealth for the majority of the rural population of Karnataka, many of whom continue to live in poverty. The districts of Bellary and Gulbarga are particularly poor, despite the fact that mining has been prevalent in these districts for some time now. An estimated 45 per cent of the population of Bellary continues to live in extreme conditions of poverty, in spite of the manganese and iron ore mining there. The district is ranked 17 in the state’s Human Development Index (HDI), clearly indicating that the income generated from mining in the district has not translated into improved living conditions for the majority of the population. Iron ore mining has caused serious environmental problems, with mine waste and dust preventing the cultivation of crops in the area. Large-scale limestone mining in Gulbarga has also encroached upon agricultural land in the district.23

Child labour is recognised as a serious problem in the mining sector in Karnataka. Iron ore mining in Bellary is infamous for its large number of child labourers involved, with at least 200,000 boys and girls working in the iron mines in this district.24 Children as young as 3 years old can be seen at the mine sites, accompanying their parents to work. By the age of seven or eight they start performing a number of jobs at these sites, including hammering away through piles of iron stock and carrying heavy loads on their head. They are employed by mine owners and contractors for digging, breaking stones, sieving, loading, dumping, and transporting and processing iron ore with no safety equipment.25 Accidents and injuries are common in these mines.

Illegal mining is also recognised as a serious problem in the state. In 2008, the Central Empowerment Committee and Lokayukta for the state Santosh Hegde submitted a report calling for the Karnataka state government to urgently tackle illegal mining in the state, in the interests of the country. There have been a number of complaints about politically influential mine owners and politicians with high stakes in the mining industry, using the bureaucracy to carry out illegal mining.26 Many small mines in the state operate without permits and do not pay taxes.

The Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), located in Kolar district, was closed in 2003. No longer the ‘golden land’ of India, what was once a thriving gold mining area has been abandoned, with unemployment rates high amongst the local population.

Kolar district: Key facts

Total population: 2,536,069 (Census 2001)
Population (0–14 years): 803,954 (Census 2001)
Literacy rate: Total 62.84 per cent
Male 73.17 per cent
Female 52.23 per cent (Census 2001)
Percentage of out-of-school children(6–14 years): 0.7 per cent (ASER 2008)
Percentage of children enrolled in anganwadi centre (AWC)
or pre-school (3–4 years): 94.8 per cent (ASER 2008)
Number of child labour (5–14 years): 44,098 (Census 2001)
Under five mortality rate (ranking): 117 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

Bellary district: Key facts

Total population: 2,027,140 (Census 2001)
Population (0–14 years): 749,227 (Census 2001)
Literacy rate: Total 57.4 per cent
Male 69.2 per cent
Female 45.28 per cent (Census 2001)
Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 14.1 per cent (ASER 2008)
Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 89.1 per cent (ASER 2008)
Number of child labour (5–14 years): 66,767 (Census 2001)
Under five mortality rate (ranking): 380 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

Situation in Mining-affected Communities of Bellary and Kolar Districts

Karnataka, which means ‘where one’s ears want to wander’ has a story that makes neither the ears nor the eyes of the nation wish to wander, as the red dust camouflages the sordid state of children living in the iron ore mines of Bellary and where the gold can no longer offer its glitter to the young generation of Kolar. The two stories presented here are that of Bellary, a site of the ‘red Indian children’, and Kolar that speaks of a journey of the lost youth, the refugees of a ‘golden’ past. One can be found at almost every mine site breaking iron with their fragile hands, while the other disappears every morning and is chugged back into the mining township late after sunrise. One works along with the adults to supplement the meagre wages; the other is the sole supporter of the retrenched adult. One has lost its childhood, the other its youth. These case studies clearly show all the three cycles of mining—proposed areas, existing mines and closed mines— and how during all the three cycles children are cruelly made vulnerable to the unaccounted costs of mining.The Karnataka state overview of child development is presented here within which context the status of children affected by mining is juxtaposed.

Kolar Gold Fields: The Golden Grave With the Golden Handshake

“We are angry that the government has not bothered to give us an alternative livelihood. When there is so much of land and infrastructure readily available here and so many of us youth waiting for employment, why doesn’t the government set up some industry or Special Economic Zone (SEZ) here to give us employment, instead of forcing farmers elsewhere to give up their agriculture for industries?”

Source: Group discussion with youth in Kolar township, Kolar, June 2009

The largest gold mine in India and the first public sector mining company to face closure, Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML), better known as KGF, is a story of abandonment. It is a testimony of irresponsibility and lack of accountability on the part of the mining company as well as of the state when mining was abruptly shut down and workers faced overnight retrenchment. It is a testimony of how such abandonment of mining activities orphans the children of mine workers. What was seen in KGF was a whole generation of children and youth rudely thrown into the streets to rescue their families from the golden graves of the ghost town called Kolar, which was once the proud producer of the glittering metal for the country.

History of Bharat Gold Mines Limited

Based in Kolar district of Karnataka, BGML was a Government of India public sector undertaking, spread over an area of 13,000 acres. Established by the British in 1905, it became BGML in 1972 under the Government of India, Ministry of Mines, and was primarily engaged in the extraction of gold till the year 2002 when it faced a sudden closure on grounds of financial losses. The company extracted 514.17 kg gold in 1997, and in 1998 the revised target was 550 kg of gold but actually only 404.1 kg could be extracted; between January and March of 1999 145 kg was extracted by the company. At the time of closure the company had on its payrolls, a total of 4,345 employees of whom 2,336 were technical and 2,009 were non-technical staff.27

The company provided a township for its employees with residential facilities for all levels of workers, basic amenities of drinking water, electricity, sanitation, roads, schools and medical facilities. The BGML hospital was located within the township where workers had access to free medical services. There were 17 schools, a degree college, a dental college and a nursing college.

Social and Economic Background

Due to the legacy of the British establishment, KGF has a distinct culture of English and Christian influence. A large section of the employees originally hail from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala (Palakkad district). Interestingly, although located in Karnataka, there were few workers from within the state. At the time of the study the township had the third generation of mine workers’ families living in KGF. The township has an abundance of churches and temples and the workers are proud of their multi-cultural background, social tolerance and a strong sense of identity as a mining community. The workers stated that this distinct culture has come from the history of being together and facing the dangers of working underground, of having to face mine accidents and fatalities and yet having the security of the township and its employment. For almost all the workers’ families for the last three generations, life revolved around mining alone as they had never lived outside of the township.

Closed BGML (Photo June 2009)

The children of this mining town had the privilege of educational facilities from the company, the Christian missionary institutions and some of the vernacular schools. Hence most children attended English medium schools and pursued higher education. The presence of professional colleges in the township is evidence of the high importance given to education.

However, when the company was closed down suddenly in 2002, the entire population of KGF fell into a crisis with no alternative source of income or livelihood. The workers stated that although the salaries were not very high, yet the infrastructure and free services provided to them by the company ensured that the basic needs of health, education and public services were met. However, when the company shut down, not only were the salaries withdrawn but so also were all the basic amenities. Since then the fate of the 4,345 families has been a tragic struggle for survival. The 17 odd workers’ unions contested the company’s decision which took advantage of the divisions among them and to this day, there is no concrete solution that has emerged either through the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), the Supreme Court or by the central government.

For six long years the workers’ families held on to their agitation and KGF witnessed a tumultuous struggle of a community from a life of dignity to one of desperation, impoverishment and collapse of a morale that is the pride of miners. The shock of having no sustenance and the forced idleness of able-bodied men who were used to laborious work, led to serious anxiety related illnesses, alcoholism and crime. This also resulted in domestic violence, behavioural disorders and, more than 149 suicides and stress related deaths. When interviewed by the study team, the Medical Officer of the government Primary Health Centre (PHC) at KGF also confirmed this, although he was reluctant to give the case records officially.

After the closure, the company withdrew all amenities to the workers, and state institutions did not take over as workers were not in a position to pay for these services. Hence for several years, KGF remained without public services like drinking water, electricity, sanitation and other amenities. Unable to sustain their families any longer, the workers reported that they accepted the monetary compensation offered by the government, which amounted to approximately, Rs.150,000 for workers and about Rs.700,000 for officers. The only concession was that all the workers were allowed to retain the housing quarters by purchasing them from the company at nominal prices. Therefore, KGF today is a mining town of mine workers without any mining activity or any other forms of economic opportunities. The houses of the workers, with their bare furniture and sparse kitchens hidden behind occasional festivities, are evidence of the poverty brought upon the community by the mine closure. Neither the company nor the government have paid attention to the long term impacts of the closure on the social and economic life of the workers and washed their hands off with mere monetary compensation. The vast area of land, infrastructure, manpower are all lying wasted in despair.

How Kolar Gold Fields Has Betrayed Its Youth

The children of the workers’ families were the most affected by the company’s decision. Children’s education and social security faced the axe. As education was no longer a free service, many of the workers could not pay school fees during the period of the strike. Children faced humiliation at school and many of them had to drop out. It was mainly the adolescent girls and boys who were in high school who dropped out of school and were forced to take the responsibility of sustaining their families. Many of the workers felt humiliated to shift to other petty jobs like working as watchmen, electricians, security guards or petty vendors, and preferred to remain idle and starving.

This immediately shifted the responsibility of supporting the families on teenage children. However, as KGF offers no job opportunities, they have to travel out to the city of Bengaluru approximately 120 km away, in search of employment. The workers sardonically comment on the government’s generosity to the BGML employees when they speak about the railway line and the trains that were introduced as compensation for the mine closure. Every morning between 7,000 to 12,000 youth and young adults leave for work to Bengaluru by these trains and return only late in the night. The study team saw packed crowds leaving at 6.00 am in the morning and returning by the last train that comes into KGF at 9.00 pm, and, how adolescent girls form a majority of these daily commuters. When interviewed, the young girls who commute by these trains admitted that they are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse as the trains are overcrowded, but they brush it aside as unavoidable as they have no other choice but to work to sustain their families. A few of the girls stated that they have learnt to deal with these problems over the years by choosing to travel in groups. However, they stated that the main problem was while returning home as sometimes their employers make them work extra hours, which means they cannot take the regular train back home. This creates tension for the girls when they have to travel back alone as incidents of assault are common around the railway track in KGF.

The morning train that leaves from Kolar carries thousands of young boys and girls to work in Bengaluru (photo June 2009)

The only fortune that these young people of KGF have is their English education. They are therefore offered lower-end jobs in corporate offices, business process outsourcing (BPO), banks and other private firms that require English speaking skills. A majority of the girls work as contract labour in the garment industries in the suburbs of Bengaluru while most of the boys work as electricians, masons, carpenters, security guards, plumbers and the like. The study team could not find any young people in the township during the weekdays and, during the weekends girls are normally busy with household chores.

KGF has gained notoriety of having youth hired by political and criminal groups, which operate in Bengaluru, for violent and criminal activities. It was also reported that some of the women and young girls from the workers’ families turned to prostitution to keep their families from starving. However, people of KGF prefer not to have such news highlighted as it only sensationalises KGF without actually addressing their core problems.

One of the glaring problems reported by the people themselves is theft. Young boys operate as petty criminals and steal parts of the company infrastructure like metal sheets from mine shafts, machinery and other scrap. The team found many of the properties of BGML with broken doors and windows, walls stripped of cupboards, fencing material ripped away and similar scenes around the township. When the study team visited KGF, a critically injured mine worker was admitted to the PHC and it was reported that some youth had brutally assaulted him on the railway track and robbed him. People were bitter that these crimes were committed under the guidance of the local police who thrive on the new violence erupting from the youth.

When the youth of KGF were interviewed they expressed their anger and frustration at the government, and about how the company betrayed their families and left them to suffer the indignity of poverty without providing any alternatives. A majority of them stated that they were ready to go underground and keen to have the mining back or demanded that the government should set up other industries in KGF. They questioned the irrationality of the government, which is trying to forcibly acquire large areas of rich agricultural lands from farmers in other places for setting up SEZs, whereas KGF has 13,000 acres of land, the right infrastructure and manpower that can readily service different industries.

Some of the girls interviewed spoke bitterly about their lost opportunities as they were meritorious students and had gained admission to professional courses like engineering but had to forego their studies due to the financial crises suffered by their families. All through the field visit the study team got the impression that workers, officers and the youth were all living in hopeful anticipation of the mine being opened once again and the families getting back to the golden days of BGML.

Therefore, most of the families have remained in KGF awaiting the revival of the mines or hoping that the government will come to their rescue with other industries. The workers’ unions claim that they are now under a united federation and confident of negotiating with the government for a revival and are preparing the youth to be the next generation of mine workers. However, differences were visible; the political environment of the unions and the government stance makes it seem that it is unlikely that a constructive alternative for the youth is possible in the immediate future. The youth have paid a heavy price for the political dead-end created by the KGF mine closure.

Health Impacts

The two most glaring problems that were identified were the occupational illnesses related to gold mining and the social ills related to closure. The workers interviewed admitted that almost all of them who worked underground suffered from silicosis and tuberculosis. Earlier they were treated in the company hospital and they reported that death due to silicosis was experienced quite frequently. However, after the mine closed down and so also the hospital, the ex-workers suffering from these illnesses today do not have medical facilities. The government PHC in KGF is unable to meet the medical requirements of the township as well as the general public of the taluka as it is highly understaffed. The Medical Officer reported that the workers mainly suffer from respiratory illnesses, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis (TB) and silicosis although the latter is not an officially confirmed diagnosis as most silicosis patients, to the convenience of the state and the industry, are diagnosed with tuberculosis. The health problems of the children, as reported by the Medical Officer relate to respiratory illnesses, skin diseases, bronchitis and malaria. The Medical Officer also stated that there were cases of HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) but it was hard to state whether they were from the township or outside as the workers do not have a separate hospital now. The workers’ families are unable to meet the medical expenses, so some of the workers’ unions are voluntarily helping the families in accessing medical facilities. Therefore the burden of supporting the families has fallen on the youth again.

Closed BGML Hospital in Kolar township which provided free medical services for workers and their famililes (Photo June 2009)

The mine tailings or the cyanide hill as it is popularly known is located in the center of the township. Ironically, while it has created a peculiar aesthetics for tourism and the film industry, the workers and the Medical Officer interviewed, were suspicious that some of the health problems could be related to radiation or dust pollution associated with the mine tailing or the cyanide hill. While media reports in the past indicate probable health problems, there has been no scientific study done to take any safety precautions or protection of the environment and water bodies.

Access to Water

Water scarcity is one of the most serious problems reported by the people who state that while they live above gallons of accumulated groundwater from the aquifers ruptured by the mining activity, they do not have access to safe drinking water. Water shortage is felt round the year and as they have to pay for the water supplied to them, the sanitation and hygiene of the township is of serious concern.
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:17 am


KGF was a public sector mining company, yet it could not set any practice for a comprehensive mine closure. The government simply walked away from the problem with justified grounds of lack of unity among the unions. Mining is a sector with high economic stakes and with the strongest risk to democracy as decisions are made on the basis of muscle power rather than on behalf of the good of the majority, whether during the course of mining or post-mining. KGF is a standing example of this fix. Although there is no other community living here other than the workers’ community, no definitive future plan has emerged so far that the government can set as a precedent for private companies to follow. As India rushes into public-private partnerships and privatisation of the mining sector, accountability from mining companies during or after a mining project, its specific impacts on children and youth, has little demands, expectations, regulations or monitoring that can ensure socio-economic viability post-mining.

(Acknowledgements: This case study was done in partnership with Sakhi, Hospet, and Mr.Kumar, freelance journalist of Kolar who together organised the field visits to KGF. We thank them for accompanying us to the KGF township and helping with the field interviews.)

Cyanide heap in the middle of Kolar township–the controversial hill that is supposed to be causing radiation (Photo June 2009)

Bellary: Children Behind the Iron Curtain-Too Many Irons in the Fire to Save Them

“Red people, red dust, red water, red trees, red animals and the village itself has turned into a red village”. In the morning we wake up with dust, we eat dust, drink dust and sleep with dust, our life is only about red dust.”

Source: Complaint from people interviewed in Kallali village, Hospet, June 2009

Hospet is a small town in Bellary district known for its large reserves of iron ore and manganese. It is a haven for illegal mining and is a standing example of how the power of the mining mafia has reached uncontrollable limits inspite of wide media exposes, political imbroglios and human rights campaigns. The open opulence of mine owners most boastfully described through the number of helicopters owned in this region stares arrogantly against the stark poverty, hunger, destroyed lands, ruined agriculture and mangled social fabric. Most of all it stares unrepentantly at the terrified child, who breaks the iron ore stones across miles of illegal mines, ruthlessly obscured by the impenetrable nexus of the mining industry and the politician whose influence over governance and administration is known to be beyond just the Bellary district or even that of Karnataka.

Bellary, Sandur and Hospet taluks have, over the last few decades, changed the ecology and economy of the region by setting up iron ore mining extraction and refining projects. These are, to a large extent, serviced by migrant populations who come from Chitradurg, Raichur and Koppal in Karnataka and from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. The areas visited for the field survey were Kallali, Danapur, Sankalapuram, Kariganuru, Jambunathagudda, Mariyammanahalli, PK halli, Rajapura, Sultanpura, Torangallu and Bellary. We found several violations on the rights of the children living and working in the mining sites, slums and villages here.

The companies are mainly private operators with a few public sector companies like the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). However, there are more illegal mines than legal ones operating in the district. The mining boom led to a scramble for mining with small contractors and even farmers themselves converting vast areas of agricultural lands into mine pits in a very erratic, uncontrolled and indiscriminate manner.

Migrant workers live in small plastic tents no larger than 3–5 sq ft in size, at the mine site, Sandur. (Photo December 2009)

For instance, in Jambunathagudda, a small village near Hospet, we found over 100 acres of land being used for smallscale illegal mining. We visited three sites here where mainly migrant labour from Koppal, Chitradurg and Gulbarga were working. The people reported that there were atleast 40 illegally operating mines here but the numbers had reduced due to the economic recession. All the 20-odd migrant families live in makeshift tents made of plastic sheets, provided by the contractor. They have no electricity, drinking water or basic amenities. Their ration cards are of their native village, hence they can only purchase from the private shops. None of the children here attend school, but they help their parents in the mines. Each family earns Rs.1,500 per week.

Child Labour

It is difficult to give an exact figure for child labour, but one has to only visit Hospet and spend a whole day walking through the mines, and it is obvious that there are a large number of children working in the mines and in other nonmining activities. Many of the children are from migrant families. Some of the migrant families have settled down in the slums in Hospet while many migrate only seasonally for mine labour. Children are engaged in breaking of stones, digging, dumping and also in cleaning of trucks. Many, as they live on the site and accompany their parents, start working even at the age of five and six and are adept at their work by the age of 10. Boys from the age of 12 start taking on the more difficult work of breaking the larger boulders and stones while the girls are engaged in breaking these into small stones, powdering them into iron ore filings and in loading activities. The average earning of the children working in mining activities ranges between Rs.80 and Rs.100 per day.

Children of migrant families work at crushing site, This one is in a crushing unit at Hospet (Photo June 2009)

In Sankalapuram young girls between the age of eight and 18 who were interviewed near the mines, said that there are about 100 crushers as far as they understand and there are 20 to 25 girls working in each site. Their work time is between 5.00 am and 12.00 pm and they earn Rs.100 or Rs.110 per day because of which parents force the girls to work in the mines.

Kariganuru is a village close to the national highway where there is rampant illegal mining. The people interviewed stated that there are more than 1,500 families living here who are engaged as mine labour. At the time of our visit, there were several girls between the ages of 10 and 15 years, working in the mine sites. The girls sort the stones and separate them while the older women break the stones. The villagers said that there are at least 500 girls working in the mines and every family has, on an average, two boys involved in mining related work from this village.

Sandur is known for almost every inch of land being taken on lease by small contractors for iron ore mining. The local people from the mine site visited by us said that, in an area of 20–30 acres there were about 100 illegal mines. In each mine site 7–8 workers were found, mainly women and girls. According to the owner of a mine interviewed, thousands of small contractors sell their iron ore to Obulapuram mining company, which is just 5 km away, at a rate of Rs.4,000 per truck. We found small girls even of the age of 5 years working in these mine sites and when questioned, the mine owner had a straight reply, that as they supply ore to Obulapuram, they do not have to deal with the law or police as these are ‘taken care’ of by the company.

The major escape route for mine owners and contractors where child labour is concerned is the firm (desperate) cooperation of the families themselves as they cannot survive without the wages of the children. Many of the children we saw in the slums had single parents, widowed mothers or bedridden parents because of which they had no choice but to leave school and work either in the mines or elsewhere. Every contractor or middle man interviewed spoke as if they took pity on the families and allowed the children to work as a gesture of charity.

The economic meltdown in the iron ore industry globally has affected Bellary as the number of children working in the mines seems to have reduced since our fact-finding study in 2005. However, during the field visits we found that business was picking up again with trucks moving around and women and children being called for work by the contractors, even discreetly at night, as work goes on illegally.

Young girls are engaged in sorting and breaking of iron ore, working 8 hours a day, at Kariganuru, Hospet (Photo December 2009)

Migrant women and their small children working at an illegal mining site in Sandur (Photo January 2010)

The Condition of Children Living in Hospet Slums

Hospet town has more than 70 slums, which spread largely due to the mining activities. Sakhi, a local organisation working with the mine workers and communities, undertook a random survey in 14 slums and villages around Hospet to get a glimpse into children not attending school. Table 2.01 gives some data regarding out-of-school children in Hospet.

This survey is just a small sample of the larger picture of the children living in the slums of Hospet. The survey was conducted in these slums and surrounding villages to understand the background of the children who have dropped out of school and reasons for this drop-out. Almost all the children surveyed are from mine workers’ families, either one or both parents working in the mines or having worked in the past. The children stated that they do not attend school because of financial problems in the family, death of one or both parents, seasonal migration or the need to earn a daily wage for their survival. Most of the parents of these children are either mine workers or coolies (loaders) in the railway station where most of the iron ore loading takes place. Majority of the children interviewed were from SC and ST families. Some of the children of mine workers’ families were found working as coolies in the railway station, as stone pickers in the mines or in other odd jobs or as domestic labour in the town. In four of the slums we visited in Hospet, the situation was similar. Several children just stay at home or work as domestic maids or are hired by vendors, shop keepers or hotels. Out of 25 children interviewed in one slum, eight children said they live with their family in a rented house, two families live in tents (kaccha house), and other children live with their family in their own house. The common illnesses we found in these children are fevers, cold, body pain, malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory problems. Constant illness due to the hazardous work and expenditure on medicines and private hospitals were stated to be a major reason for indebtedness.

Table 2.01: Details of out-of-school children in Hospet

Sl. / Village name / Male / Female / Total / Nature of work

1 / 88 Muddapura / 13 / 23 / 36 / Mine labour, working in small hotels, building construction labour, staying at home

2 / Danapura / 26 / 4 / 30 / Ore loading, domestic labour, agriculture labour

3 / Joga / 12 / 16 / 28 / Ore loading, domestic labour, agriculture labour

4 / Hanumanahalli / 19 / 14 / 33 / Agriculture labour, child marriage, mine labour

5 / Sankalapura / 12 / 14 / 33 / Mine labour, agriculture labour

6 / Danayakanakere / 7 / 19 / 26 / Not working

7 / Kariganuru / 17 / 20 / 37 / Loading, driver, cleaner, staying at home, domestic labour

8 / PK halli / 13 / 7 / 20 / Staying at home, mine labour, domestic labour

9 / MM halli / 23 / 24 / 47 / Agriculture, mine labour, building contruction, staying at home, shepherd, mentally challenged

10 / SR Nagar / 9 / 13 / 22 / Selling pots, working in hotels, child marriage

11 / AS Gudi / 6 / 7 / 13 / Staying at home, agricultural labour, mine labour

12 / Riyaz Nagar / 18 / 9 / 27 / Factory labour, domestic labour, auto drivers

13 / BTR Nagar / 12 / 6 / 18 / Building construction, mentally challenged, staying at home, auto drivers

14 / Chittavadgi / 9 / 8 / 17 / Helpers in roadside shops, domestic labour

-- / Total / 196 / 184 / 367 / --

Source: Survey undertaken by local organisation Sakhi, Hospet, October 2009

Children of mine workers in Hospet slum–many children work in garages, tea stalls, mine sites, as truck cleaners coolies,loaders, domestic labour (Photo January 2010)

The Status of Schools and Education in the Mining Area

The Bellary district statistics show that a total of 9,233 children were out of school in the year 2006, 5,198 children were out of school in the year 2007 and 4,581 children were out of school in the year 2008.28 However, these district figures are grossly underestimated as, from a very small random survey, we found that in Hospet alone, there were 367 children not going to school.

The primary school in Valmikinagar, Kariganuru has 105 children enrolled. There are only three teachers for classes I to V and four classrooms of which one is damaged due to mine blasting activities happening nearby. According to the headmaster only 80–85 children attend school regularly but almost every child is absent for atleast 2 days in a week. He said that most of them work in the mines with their parents and earn Rs.50 per day. As most of the children enrolled here are migrant labour from Cuddapah and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, the children find it difficult to study in Kannada (local language) medium, which is another cause for them dropping out. The poor infrastructure with children of different classes having to sit together and lack of teachers are other reasons for children not wanting to attend school.

Loading activities take place just behind the school and children disappear during school hours or during lunch break for loading work as they can earn Rs.15 each. The local school teacher said that even children of classes II and III go for mining work and are absent from school regularly. Apart from mining activities, the children of this school are also working in the garages and hotels on the highway. Moreover, continuous blasting just near the school creates noise pollution disturbing the classes and leaves a layer of red dust on the children, their food and books. The blasting operations and the proximity to the highway, makes the school a dangerous location for children. The school also does not have a boundary wall. The school authorities say that they have put a requisition to the education department for shifting the school to a safer location, but there is no action taken so far.

In one slum in Hospet, 15 out of the 25 children interviewed were from SC families and of these, nine children had never attended school, the main reason being mining, ill-health and poverty. In Sultanpura village, there are three power projects owned by the Jindals and KMMI. One of the plants has been set up just 200m from the primary school. There are 103 children in the age group of 6–14 but only 61 children attend the primary school. Of these there are only 13 children from SC community, the reason for this being that dalit children are working as child labour in the mines, as explained by the local organisation Rural Education Action Development Society (READS). The headmaster said that the children in the school are always complaining of throat infections due to the high levels of dust from the mines. The school has only two permanent teachers but at the time of the visit only the headmaster was present and the other two teachers were on leave. The infrastructure too was poor and the school had no drinking water, toilet or proper classrooms (two classes were taken together by one teacher). The safety of the children did not seem to be a concern for the authorities inspite of the dilapidated condition of the building.

Classroom of Valmikinagar primary school damaged due to mine blasting operations near Kariganuru, Hospet, Karnataka (Photo January 2010)

In Kallali village, where there are 200 families, the problems are similar to Kariganuru where the people are suffocating with the iron ore dust and are living in appalling conditions. Here also the school is located dangerously close to the road where the dust, blasting and traffic of heavy vehicles are always a threat to the safety and health of the children. It is an irony that there is a boundary wall that provides no protection to the school. In the entire stretch of the highway between Hospet and Kallali village we found children working in the tea stalls, cycle shops, hotels and even in the private dispensaries rather than in the school. As Dr. Shankar C. Nair of the Community Health Centre (CHC), Hospet stated,

“Children are working everywhere, it is difficult to give an exact number. Rather, what is required is the acknowledgement of the alarming situation of the children working and living here.”

Ironically, we found a child working in his own clinic, helping in the clinic activities.

The people in Kariganuru reported that although there is a local primary school, only children from the economically stable families attend school and only about 25 boys attend college in the nearby town of Hospet.

Children in Tent Schools

Organisations based in the area, like READS and Social Economical Educational Develeopment Society (SEEDS), run tent schools for children of mine workers, particularly the migrant families who have no access to regular schools. According to a survey conducted by READS in May 2009, there are 1,307 children out of school from 27 villages in Sandur taluk, and majority of these children are working in the mines.

In Neerahalli village there are 40–42 families hired by contractors to work in illegal mines. The tent school has very young children who used to work in the mines until READS provided them this opportunity. Shivganga is an 8 year old girl who worked in the mines with her mother and also took care of her younger siblings. Bharati is another migrant girl who never went to school but has to continue working in the mines part time while she attends the tent school for a few hours each day. She earns Rs.30–40 per day for breaking iron ore and this money is important for her mother to raise the family. A 12 year old boy has to tend to cattle, so he has found his own solution—he sends the cattle to the grazing area near the tent school and keeps an eye on them while he attends the school. His parents work as daily wage labour in the mines.

Children of mine workers in a tent school at Neerahalli, Sandur run by READS, with support from TDH, Germany (Photo January 2010)

These are just a few examples of the background of the children who come to the tent schools. Yet, while they provide a temporary relief from the mines, these schools are not an alternative to formal education that every child has a fundamental right to, nor do they keep the children away from mining work. Children such as these do not figure in the child labour statistics as they are attending school, but their part time work is not accounted for.

In the survey conducted by READS in 27 villages of Sandur taluk with respect to children of mine workers and on children not attending school, a total of five gram panchayats were covered having 27 villages and 3,665 families.

Table 2.02 shows the situation of children who come to the tent schools in this area while they also work either in the mines or in other activities at home or outside in Sandur.

Tent School for Children of Mine Workers, run by SEEDS, Sandur with support from TDH, Germany–children attend the school and also work in the mines Photo taken by SEEDS

Table 2.02: Survey on children not attending school in Sandur

Sl. / No. / Description / Boys / Girls / Total

1 / Total children / 3,876 / 3,659 / 7,535

2 / Regular school-going children / 3,187 / 3,045 / 6,232

3 / Age wise

3-5 years / 980 / 885 / 1,865

6-14 years / 2,113 / 2, 149 / 4,262

15-18 years / 783 / 625 / 1,408

4 / School drop-out children / 689 / 614 / 1,303

5 / Nature of work

Mines / 250 / 186 / 436

Cattle grazing / 110 / 30 / 140

Caring for siblings / 133 / 278 / 411

Bonded Labour / 2 / 0 / 2

Agricultural work / 194 / 120 / 314

Handicraft / 49 / 18 / 67

Source: Data collected by local organisation READS, Bellary, May 2009

Thimmalapura is a small village of 20 SC and ST families in Sandur taluk. All families are migrants who have been living here for the last 4 years. In Thimmalapura camp school there were 40 children out of which 13 children were reported to be malnourished, by the teachers. The rest appear to be equally malnourished and anaemic. The survey done by READS shows that 39 children have dropped out of the primary school, which is located 4 km away from here in Metriki village. The tent school teacher said that the children suffer constantly from malaria, jaundice, cough and fevers, and they come to school with skin infections and rashes. The auxiliary nurse cum midwife (ANM) was said to visit them once a month for health check-up. The older boys from here work as truck drivers and cleaners as NMDC and Obulapuram mines are very close to this area.


Very few mine workers’ colonies have access to anganwadis. Where they exist, the infrastructure and facilities are far from satisfactory to cater to the needs of the children below 6 years. For example, in Rajapura there are 118 children in the age group of 1–6 years. Of the 40–42 children who attend the anganwadi, the records showed that 15 children suffer from Grade I malnourishment and 25 children are in Grade II level. The sanitation of the anganwadi including the kitchen was extremely poor and looked as if cooking a meal here would lead to food poisoning or ill-health of the children. The anganwadi has a toilet that cannot be used. The sewage water drains in front of the school serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Some youth were found to be gambling with the money they just earned from the mining trucks, right outside the anganwadi with the anganwadi children peering over them with curiosity. The children reported that the only frequent visitor to the anganwadi is a snake that comes through the crack in the walls. The whole atmosphere reflected how the life of the children in the mining area was insecure and unhealthy, both physically and socially.

A group of youth gambling in front of the anganwadi with children as audience, at Rajapura in Sandur (Photo December 2009)

The anganwadi in Sultanpura showed 66 children enrolled although there are 85 children below 6 years of age in the village. On the day of our visit there were only 17 children present and the teacher hastily came to the anganwadi, upon hearing that a team was visiting. There were no records maintained by the teacher here and she could only show empty files. There were no educational materials found, and even the basic kits were not available. On our insistence, the helper took out the weighing scale which had no suspension belt to hold the children. The teacher asked the children to hang on to the hooks when we requested for them to be weighed. There was a space called a toilet but it was being used to store firewood. The taps had no running water and the general sanitation of the anganwadi was abysmal. The majority of the children looked very anaemic but as the anganwadi teacher is too careless to maintain any records, we could not get accurate data.

Child hanging to the weighing scale, which was lying rusted, at Sultanpura anganwadi. No record of children’s growth maintained (Photo December 2009)

Health Problems

Dr. Shankar Nair of CHC hospital in Hospet said that most of the patients who come to the hospital were migrant mine workers whose economic condition is too poor to help them maintain a basic level of good health. He said that they suffered from TB, malaria, pneunomocosis, lung and skin diseases, and asthma. HIV/AIDs have increased after mining activities reached a peak.

The doctors at the CHC in Toranagallu, Sandur, gave their medical observations of the health problems in the taluk. They felt that the large number of steel plants set up in Sandur have created air pollution with toxic fumes from the chimneys causing allergies and infections to the people in the surrounding areas. Children particularly, are exposed to this from birth and are therefore, having respiratory illnesses. The CHC records here show 59 cases of TB and 51 cases of HIV/AIDS, most of whom were mine workers. The hospital also commonly has cases of kidney stones from the areas close to the mine sites. The overall diagnosis of the doctors of the CHC shows that malnutrition is high among the mine workers and their children. The big companies like the Jindals run hospitals but they do not service the communities or workers as the medical costs here are high and only meant for the upper strata of the society in this area.

Toilet being used to keep firewood at Sultanpura anganwadi in Sandur (Photo December 2009)

In Rajapura village, according to the anganwadi worker, 25 persons have TB, all of whom were working in the mines. Due to the hazardous nature of the work and physical strain, almost all the workers are addicted to some form of drugs, tobacco or alcohol. Even young children, mostly boys, are addicted to drugs in order to withstand the strenuous work and body pains. The easy access to drugs, supplied by peddlers who are known to have the blessings of mine owners, contractors and police, creates a vicious nexus that is an outright violation of the safety and security of the children of Bellary.

Malnourished child in a mining affected colony (Photo December 2009)

Kariganuru village has 7–8 private clinics which reflect the high rate of illnesses here. Although there was a government TB hospital, it is closed now. The common diseases found in the village were cough, eye infections, fevers, allergies while chronic respiratory illnesses, malaria, TB were also reported. People also reported that there were many accidents near the village due to the heavy flow of trucks on the highway.

The village Neerahalli has no public services like electricity, drinking water, Public Distribution System (PDS), road, water or housing for the mine workers. They are not enlisted in the gram panchayat. There is no government school or anganwadi nearby and the PHC is 10 km away but the roads are in no condition for sick people, especially pregnant women, to travel. Similar is the condition of the villagers in Thimmalapura where, in addition to lack of basic services, there is a problem of flourosis. Here children and adults complain of joint pains. Four persons in this village have TB. The daily wage is Rs. 80 which is far from sufficient to provide for a basic diet of dal and vegetables. So the staple diet here is just rice and jowar rotis.

The dust pollution and depletion of groundwater forced many small farmers to sell their land to mining contractors as agriculture was made unviable. This has badly affected their food security and livelihood because of which children are directly affected in their health and nutrition. Many farmers themselves have been forced into mine labour with their entire families. This has affected the education of children and school drop-out is visible among local children whose villages surround the mining activities. Even if they do not work in the mining activities, the severe dust pollution and contaminated water have affected the general health of children. The doctors and chemist stores that we interacted with in Hospet, stated that chronic respiratory illnesses, allergies, lung diseases, diarroeah and asthma have increased among children not only of mine workers but of the general public.


Bellary district is a standing example of the indiscriminate and illegal mining, and how the entire governance machinery is made ineffective in dealing with the problems. It is also a glaring example of how such large numbers of children are working in stark daylight and yet, the helplessness of the people, the state and the civil society are clearly evident. It is an area that was once rich in agriculture and is today, totally destroyed by mining, over a large area. However, the recent political and bureaucratic pressures that are being brought on the mining activities hold hope. Bellary provides a strong reason for addressing the glaring loopholes in the law that related to private and small-scale/rat-hole mining, the need to develop guidelines for migrant labour and unorganised sector and the pre-conditions that need to be fixed before mining leases are granted. An urgent comprehensive assessment of the status of children of mine workers as well as of local communities and the status of the institutional structures for children have to be immediately taken up. Foremost is the need for strengthening the campaign against child labour in this region.

(Acknowledgements: The above case studies were done mainly in partnership with Sakhi, an organisation working for the rights of women and children based in Hospet, Bellary. We would like to thank Dr. Bhagyalaxmi and her team for working with us all through the case study and in conducting field interviews on our behalf. We also wish to thank the organisations READS, SEEDS and Don Bosco for all their help in compiling information).

Contaminated water having iron ore waste, the only sources of water for bathing, washing and drinking, Sandur (Photo December 2009)

Rangamma’s story: stone quarrying in India
February 3, 2010

Read Rangamma’s story below and find out how you can help the Because I Am Girl campaign.

“My parents came here to Bangalore after working for two years close to our native place ,” says Rangamma. “I couldn’t go to school as my mother had to work and I had to look after the kids. Now mother is home I am working with appa (father). We wake up at 6am and I wash the dishes…. I help appa by breaking stones, filling them in the baskets and loading them into the trucks. We get 600 rupees for one lorry tipper. But we pay for the explosives used to blast the rocks. So appa makes 1000 to 1200 rupees (about $US20 dollars) a week.”

Girls such as Rangamma regularly work up to 14 hours a day engaged in back-breaking work – digging, breaking and loading stones. They also help to process the ore in toxic and hazardous environments, without safety equipment.

“When we start we have a lot of blisters. Gradually they go away and the skin on your palms becomes harder,” Rangamma confides. “The dust gets into your eyes and they become infected. We put some medicine. It goes away.” ... rangammas- story-stone-quarrying-in-india-20100203-nbvq.html

Coal Pollution and India’s Crippled Children
Wednesday 2 September 2009

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of Indian children being born with crippling birth defects as a result of massive levels of uranium pollution from coal-fired power stations. For some, their heads are too large or too small or their brains haven’t developed properly most will live sub-standard lives and will die young. India has been hiding these crippled children, the victims of pollution, from the world and only now can the world see the full extent of this pollution horror.

Health workers from the Punjabi cities of Bathinda and Faridkot knew something was wrong when they saw a sharp increase in the number of birth defects, physical and mental abnormalities, and cancers among children. They suspected that children were being slowly poisoned. When a visiting scientist from South Africa arranged for tests to be carried it was found that the children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies, in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.

If a few hundred children – spread over a large area – were contaminated, how many thousands more might also be affected throughout India? ... lutionand- indias-crippled-children

Uranium traces in Punjab children
30th April 2009
Down To Earth
Savvy Soumya Misra

THEY are 149 in all—mostly children below 13 and a few adults. They are being treated for autism, cerebral palsy and mental impairment at the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab. They are mostly from Punjab though there are some from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and even abroad. They are in the spotlight now because traces of uranium have been found in hair samples of most of them.

“I am distressed that uranium has been found in the samples. I don’t know what will happen to my child now,” said Devinder Singh, father of seven-year-old Yuvaraj, who is being treated at the centre for cerebral palsy.

“Tests need to be done to see if uranium is one of the causes of autism,” said Harish Babu, naturopath at the centre where treatment is done through naturopathy, neurotherapy and yoga. ... id=4&sid=5
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:18 am


State Overview

Maharashtra, the third largest state in India in terms of area, has a population of 96,878,62729 (which is 9.4 per cent of India’s total population). This makes the state the second most populated, after Uttar Pradesh. The state has a very large migrant population. Maharashtra is highly urbanised, with 42 per cent of the population residing in urban areas (the national level is around 28 per cent).30 One of the richer states, with a GSDP for 2007-08 estimated at Rs. 5,910 billion, Maharashtra contributes about 13 per cent to the national income.31

Agriculture remains Maharashtra’s largest employment sector, with around 55 per cent of the population directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood.32 This is then followed by industry. However, agriculture has not made the state self-sufficient in food grains. Instead, the tilt towards commercial crops has given rise to the agro-processing industry, though mostly limited to sugarcane and, to some extent, cotton and lately fruits and vegetables.33 This focus on sugarcane in turn has reduced the scope for equity in sharing a precious resource— water for irrigation. Only 14.5 per cent of the net sown area (total crop area) in Maharashtra is irrigated, which renders the agricultural sector vulnerable to droughts. This is evident from the periodic fluctuations in farm output, which in a normal year produces only about 90 per cent of the state’s food grain requirements.34 As a result, the rural population is subject to a high degree of instability in income and, hence, forced into working as marginal labour and migrating to urban areas, such as Mumbai.

According to the Census 2001, 10.2 per cent of Maharashtra’s population constitute SCs and 8.9 per cent are STs (the national averages being 16.2 per cent SCs and 8.2 per cent STs). The vast majority of the SC and ST population live in the rural areas of Maharashtra and are largely dependant on agriculture as their main source of income.

The poverty estimates provided by the Planning Commission, Government of India reveal that the poverty ratio in the state is 30.7 per cent, higher than the all-India average of 27.5 per cent. In absolute numbers, the population below the poverty line in Maharashtra stands third amongst major states in the country, after Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.35

The provision for healthcare in Maharashtra has struggled to keep up with the growth in the state’s population. While the population has been rapidly increasing, the number of hospitals has actually gone down slightly from 1,102 in 2001 to 1,099 in 2007. However, the average life expectancy in Maharashtra is slightly higher than the national average, at 67.9 years as opposed to 65.8 for males and 71.3 years as opposed to 68.1 for females.36 The number of deaths related to malaria has been on the rise though, from 61 recorded deaths in 2004 to 174 deaths in 2007.37 There were 206 deaths officially recorded due to pulmonary tuberculosis in 2007 in Maharashtra as well,38 though the actual figure may be much higher.

Literacy levels in Maharashtra are relatively higher as well (at 76.88 per cent) as compared to the national average (66 per cent).39 Within the literacy levels however, there appears to be a serious gender divide—85.97 per cent of the male population were found to be literate, compared to just 67.03 per cent of the female population. There are also wide disparities amongst social groups, with literacy rates substantially lower amongst the ST and SC population. According to a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) on ‘Participation and Expenditure in Education’ during 2007-08, the female literacy rate for STs in rural areas was a mere 47 per cent.

Status of Children

According to the Census 2001, children (age group 0 to 14 years) constitute 32 per cent of the total population of the state. The child sex ratio in the 0–6 year age group, with 917 girls per 1,000 boys, is lower than the national figure of 927. Maharashtra’s lower than national average sex ratio in the 0–6 population could be due to the strong son preference, female foeticide and neglect of the girl child after birth with consequent higher infant and child mortality.40

Maharashtra is facing a problem of out-of-school children due to various reasons such as unsuitable school timings, migration of children with their parents, difficulty in enrolling drop-out students in regular schools, etc.41 According to official figures, there were 70,087 children aged between 6 and 14 years out of school in the state, as of March 2008.42 However, according to Pratham’s ASER 2008 survey, 1.5 per cent of children in that age group remain out of school, suggesting that the actual figure might be much higher than this.

Economic marginalisation is the prime reason behind a rapidly increasing sex-worker population in Maharashtra as well. According to estimates done in 2004 by Mukherjee, in a study supported by Ministry of Women and Child Development, 25 per cent of female prostitutes were under the age of 18.43 According to the Census 2001, the number of children between 5 and 14 years working as child labour in the state was 392,186 main workers and 371,889 marginal workers. A large number of young girls and children reach India’s trade capital, Mumbai, after being trafficked from some of the most backward—often coinciding with mining—regions in the country.

Child health outcomes in Maharashtra have only slightly improved in recent years. According to the the NFHS-3 the IMR fell from 44 in 1998-99 to 38 in 2005-06. The percentage of children below the age of three who are underweight has also decreased from 50 in 1998-99 to 40 in 2005-06. However, the trend in vaccination coverage for children between 12 and 23 months, who received all their vaccines, declined drastically from 78 in 1998-99 to 59 in 2005-06.44

Mining in Maharashtra

About 19 per cent of Maharashtra’s geographical area is potentially mineral-bearing.45 The principal mineral-bearing belts in the state are Vidarbha area in the east and Konkan area in the west. The state accounts for 4 per cent of the total forest land diverted for mining in the country.46 There is, however, no data on how much land has been used for illegal mining. According to the Ministry of Mines, the value of mineral production in Maharashtra in 2007-08 was Rs. 51.1 billion, an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year. The state accounted for around 4.7 per cent of India’s mineral production that year.47 According to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in 2005, the mining sector in Maharashtra employed a daily average of 34,800 workers (down from 35,900 in 2004).48 The 2001 Census indicated that there were a total of 168,112 main and marginal workers in the mining and quarrying sector. 49

Unsafe working conditions at stone quarries (Photo September 2009)

Maharashtra was the largest producer of corundum in 2007- 08. The state is also the second largest producer of manganese ore after Orissa.50 Other major minerals include limestone, bauxite, manganese ore, silica sand and laterite. Undersea oil deposits have also been found off the shores of Mumbai. The Indian mining industry is characterised by a large number of small operational mines. Out of 2,954 reporting mines. 154 are in Maharashtra (making it the ninth largest mining state).51 While the state is among the top 10 contributors to the total mineral value of the country, the revenue collected by Maharashtra from the industry in the form of royalty, accounts for only 1 per cent of the total revenue receipts of the state.52

Sand mining and stone quarrying have been the focal points of Maharashtra’s highly unorganised mining sector. These mines have taken a toll on the environment, contributing to pollution, water shortages and even failed crops. The stone quarrying industry alone, hires about 4–5 million workers in the state.53 Being unorganised, and mostly illegal, it offers no special legal provisions to protect the interests of the workers, who live in dire conditions, with no basic amenities such as drinking water, electricity or health services.

In Pune’s Wagholi village, with the help of Santulan, an nongovernmental organisation (NGO), the mine workers had to actually take legal action against the government, under the Maharashtra Mining Development Fund resolution of 2002, for a provision as simple as drinking water.54

It is difficult to get an estimate of how many children work in the mines in Maharashtra. According to the Census 2001, there were 2,095 children aged between 5 and 14 years, and 11,758 between 5 and 19 years working in the mining sector in Maharashtra in 2001. However, given that the majority of the mining and quarrying in the state is in the unorganised sector, these figures could just be a bubble from the actual troubled waters.

Pune district: Key facts

Total population: 7,232,555 (Census 2001)
Population (0–14 years): 2,176,374 (Census 2001)
Literacy rate: Total 80.45 per cent; Male 88.34 per cent' Female 71.89 per cent (Census 2001)
Percentage of out-of-school children(6–14 years): 0.9 per cent (ASER 2008)
Percentage of children enrolled in anganwadi centre (AWC) or pre-school (3–4 years): 89.3 per cent (ASER 2008)
Number of child labour (5–14 years): 35,352 (Census 2001)
Under five mortality rate (ranking): 4 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

Nashik district: Key facts

Total population: 4,993,796 (Census 2001)
Population (0–14 years): 1,737,036 (Census 2001)
Literacy rate: Total 74.36 per cent; Male 83.65 per cent; Female 64.35 per cent (Census 2001)
Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 1.9 per cent (ASER 2008)
Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 93.9 per cent (ASER 2008)
Number of child labour (5–14 years): 55,371 (Census 2001)
Under five mortality rate (ranking): 87 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

The Pashan Children: A ‘Stone’ Deaf Government Hammers Their Childhood Away

Thirteen year old Santosh (name changed) works in a stone quarry in Moshi village of Pune district. He had to migrate with his family from Nashik and has been working in the quarry for more than a year now. He works from early morning till late in the evening breaking stones and loading them into trucks. He has four siblings one of whom is physically handicapped. He earns Rs.70–90 per day which is desperately needed to keep the family from starvation. When interviewed he said “I always wanted to study but our family is not in a position to send us to school and now it is too late for me to dream about it. I want to work hard so that I can use my wages to send my younger brothers to school”.

Source: Interview in Moshi quarry, Pune, September 2009

Child worker in stone quarry in Pune (Photo September 2009)

As India is leap frogging into a frenzied development mode of fast track infrastructure to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and private markets, one of the thrust areas is expansion of roads, national highways, airports, railways, ports and urban infrastructure for industries and for the fast growing urban populations. For example, the planned expansion of national highways of Government of India is an ambitious investment of Rs.2,35,430 crore for the National Highways Development Project. It is proposed that 12,109 km of four-laning, 20,000 kms of two-laning, 6,500 km of six-laning, 1,000 km of expressways, and over 16,600 crores of flyovers, ring roads, etc are planned under the Eleventh Five Year Plan. Further, in order to meet the insatiable energy requirements of the next decade, construction of large dams and power projects is another major area of investment underway.

For all these grandiose plans of India’s development, the price paid by the country is, a skyrocketing number of quarries being dug up all over the country, with a high population of migrant and unorganised labour serviced by women and children. Ironically, the inclusive growth targets of India, to match the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are also in the areas of 26 monitorable targets like: (i) income and poverty, (ii) education, (iii) health, (iv) women and children, (v) infrastructure, and (vi) environment.

There is certainly a mismatch in these development targets vis-à-vis the economic priorities. The case study presented from Maharastra is a standing example of this paradox.

The study was done in Pune and Nashik districts. In Pune two major stone quarries were visited—Wagholi and Shirur. The endless stretches of stone quarries and crushers across Pune and Nashik districts of Maharastra hide the truth behind the supply chain that feed the construction of the highways and the fast growing urban infrastructure, the proud icons of modern economy but no ivory towers for migrant child labour.

Almost all the quarries visited are very big quarries and have been in operation for more than ten years. Normally each quarry has multiple sites scattered around within the lease area with small groups of workers digging and shifting from site to site within this lease area. Sometimes they extend their digging outside the lease area illegally, depending on the mine owner’s local muscle power and influence. Pune and Nashik are strategically urban nodes especially with their proximity to Mumbai and the expanding suburban cities. According to Mr. Bastu Rege of Santulan, an organisation that works for the rights of stone quarry workers, there are 500–1,000 quarries in every district. According to the District Mining Officer of Pune, there are 412 stone quarries, but the ground reality reports show that there are double this number operating illegally. It was unofficially accepted that between 25 and 40 per cent of all mines are illegal.

For example, in 1999-2001, the state had 1,777 stone quarries and the revenue collected was to the tune of Rs.1954.09 lakhs (16 districts). In 2008-09, the revenue increased to 2990.32 lakhs (covering only three districts). This increase is a reflection of the increase in the number of stone quarries, which further reflects the increase in unorganised sector workers.

In both the districts, the main caste groups working in the stone quarries are the Vadar community, whose traditional occupation is stone-breaking. Also, increasing poverty and failure of agriculture has forced backward castes, mainly the SCs to shift to the mining sector for daily wages. According to Mr. Bastu Rege, the membership in unions that are supported by Santulan constitute 54 per cent from the Vadar community and the rest belong to SC, ST and other backward castes (OBCs). Of these, 80 per cent are illiterate. Most of the workers are migrants from within Maharashtra and the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Mr. Rege observed that in each quarry, on an average, there are 75 workers.

The Living Conditions of Mine Workers’ Children: A Sheet of Plastic Called a House and Six Feet of Living Space

Migrant stone quarry workers’ ‘houses’ surrounded by dust from the quarries (Photo September 2009)

The nine stone quarries visited showed India’s dis-respect both to the Constitutional provisions under Article 21 of Right to Life and to the international agreements. It showed how poor and unstable the living conditions of the workers were. If we found any amenities for workers, it was due to the efforts made by Santulan, in getting the workers into assertive collectives. Most of the mine workers’ colonies were located away from the main villages, and they were not part of the village community, but settled wherever mine owners allowed them to temporarily set up shacks, close to the mines. In some places, vacant lands were temporarily given to the workers by the local panchayat, based on the negotiations between the mine owners and the panchayat leaders. Hence, the workers were at the mercy of the village leaders.

Houses are ad hoc shelters made of plastic sheets and quarry stones packed as walls. In a house of 8x10 ft space, or even sometimes 4x6 ft space, 7–10 members of a family are seen to share the space. Most of the cooking and living happens outside these sheds, so the women narrate how mine dust gets mixed with the food that is cooked and how the drinking water they consume, always has a layer of dust.

Basic housing and sanitation are absent in stone quarry workers’ colonies– children consuming polluted water (Photo September 2009)

Mother awaits child returning home after a hard day’s labour in the mines– each hammer weighs more than 10 kgs (Photo September 2009)

Water for both drinking and domestic use, is a serious problem for all workers. The workers showed how they collect the water from the mine pits and utilise this for their basic needs. As the workers are at the mercy of the villages, they find it difficult to get a decent share of water even for drinking especially as the villages themselves face water shortages. In most of the sites the women complained that they often fell sick on consuming the water.

Children of the mine workers were found to be scattered all over the mine sites around the shacks, looking dirty and dusty. The mine site is their home, playground, sleeping area and is where the Pashan Shalas’ (schools for children of quarry workers run by the organisation Santulan) are also located. In all the nine sites visited, we saw children looking unhealthy, suffering from cough, cold, runny noses, fevers, and skin infections. The women said that diarrhoea, jaundice and malaria are the most common health problems of the children, as the water is contaminated and the cesspools in the mine pits are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There is no sanitation facility, so most of the infants and younger children were seen defecating around the living quarters. For the women, sanitation is a huge problem as there are no toilets and no areas for bathing.

Child labour In the Quarries: It Exists

In the nine sites visited, children are attending school only where Santulan, the NGO, runs the Pashan Shalas. The Pashan Shalas were created to rescue the children from working in the mines and currently there are 2001 children enrolled in these schools, scattered across five districts in Maharashtra. But for this intervention, all these 2001 children would have been working in the quarries or helping their parents in petty chores at the mine sites. At Gore Wasti Pashan Shala, the children shared information about their teenage brothers and sisters working in the mines and how most of them had joined work as children. For Santulan, it is difficult to motivate children and adolescents who are already working for some period to join the Pashan Shalas, as the lure of instant money, especially for boys, is too difficult to give up. As some of the boys, forced by circumstances, are addicted to gutka, gambling, mobile phones, movies and theft/crime, they find school a very boring place. They reported that they work in the tractors, garages, crushing units and in loading. Many of them said they started work as children due to ill-health and indebtedness of parents.

But for these Pashan Shala run by Santulan, children would end up in the mine sites breaking stones (Photo September 2009)

In Sai Stone Quarry (Magoan, Nasik), 60–70 girls out of the 150, are working in the stone crushers, breaking stones and loading. At Mahalaxmi Stone Quarry five children, around 13 years of age, were found to be working and in a nearby quarry, eight children, aged about 10 years, were working at the mine site. The children, who said they were migrants from Bihar, reported that they work in two shifts where four children work in the morning and four in the evening shift. In Matere Stone Quarry, seven children between the ages of 14 and 16 were found working. The women regretted not being able to send their children to the Santulan Pashan Shalas as their economic situation was really desperate. Moshi Stone Quarry is a very big area spread over 10 km, and 26 workers’ communities are settled here. It was difficult to count the number of children working, due to the presence of mine owners. In Samarth Stone Quarry, it was reported that 30 children were not attending the Pashan Shala but going for daily wage labour. In MT Patil Stone Quarry in Nashik, 20 children do not attend the Pashan Shala. In the nine stone quarries we found that there were around 352 children who would have all been child labour but for Santulan.

Problems in Attending School

Apart from the economic reason, children do not have education facilities as the colonies of the mine workers are far from the local village. So the school is too far from their homes, for the children. Parents also expressed their fears about the heavy traffic of tractors carrying loads and said that it was not safe for children to walk on these roads. As the parents leave for work in the early hours of the day and only return late in the evening, the older children have the responsibility of their siblings at the house as well as at the mine site, to watch over them for any blasting or hazardous activities in the surroundings. Besides, the children in the age group of 10–13 have to do most of the household chores, and they are always late for school or have to take their siblings along with them. At noon time, many of the children have to take food for their parents to the mine site.

Open cast stone quarries without any protection wall (Photo September 2009)

Most of the children interviewed had terrifying stories to narrate about their experiences working in the mines, about the death or illness of their parents because of which they had to accompany other adults for work and how the only relief came in the form of the Pashan Shalas. For example, a 12 year old girl from Gore Wati said,

“My father died of some illness and therefore I had to go with my mother to the quarry.”

and broke down into tears when asked to talk about her work there.

It was not possible to verify the education status of the children in the study area from secondary reports because none of the mine workers’ colonies figure in the Census or school education records of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. As the children do not go to the village or panchayat schools, we have not included the school data from these government schools. Hence our only means of verification was the statements of the workers’ families and interviews with children, which was extremely difficult, given the intimidating atmosphere that the children were working. Alternately, we went through the records of the Pashan Shalas run by Santulan as these records give a picture of the mining children who would have been out of school or be child labourers if the Pashan shalas did not exist. Table 2.03 provides information on some aspects of enrolment in Pashan Shalas.

Migration into the quarry regions in search of work is also a serious concern and affects the education of children. Table 2.04 provides some information on migrant children.

Table 2.04 gives a highly underestimated picture of the migrant children in each district in Maharashtra. The experience of Santulan, as reflected in their Pashan Shala records, clearly indicates that the situation is far worse than what is officially projected. The Assistant Labour Commissioner of Pune district admitted that it was only because of Santulan that many of the mine workers’ children are attending school. They do not have a single NCLP school in Pune. According to him, they can only run an NCLP school if they have a minimum of 50 children at any given place and since this was difficult and as most children work in restaurants, mechanic shops and other petty stores, the government is not running NCLP schools. He informed that the government is taking the initiative to rescue child workers by setting up a task-force with the help of NGOs and child welfare committees, but this was, however, not very evident in the mine sites visited where there was no NGO intervention.


Mine labour is erratic and economically unviable, most times. Each worker gets Rs. 25–30 for a tractor load of stone, and seven to eight persons work together to fill one tractor. A family works as a unit and manages to fill around four tractors per day and earns Rs.700–800 per week per person. There are some variations in wage labour from site to site. In MT Patil Stone Quarry, men are paid Rs.130 per day and women are paid Rs.70, while at Sai Stone Quarry men are being paid Rs.90 per day, women Rs.50 per day and children Rs.30 per day.

Table 2.03: Santulan Pashan Shala records of enrolment

S.No. / Pashan Shala School / Level of the School / School-going children (6–18 years) / Out-of- school children (6–18 years) / Children going for work (6–18 years) / Mid-day meal facility

1 / Vagheshwar Pashan Shala / Nursery– class IV / 110 / None / None / Yes

2 / Gore Wasti Pashan Shala / Class V–VII / 80 / None / None / Yes

3 / Suyog Nagar Pashan Shala / Nursery / 50 / None / None / Yes

4 / Datta Stone Quarry area Pashan Shala / Nursery class IV / – 45 / None/ None / Yes  

5 / Mahalaxmi Stone Quarry Pashan Shala / Nursery / 11 / None / 5 / Yes

6 / Mhatere Stone Quarry Pashan Shala / Nursery– class VII / 30 / None / 7 / Yes

7 / Samarth Stone Quarry Pashan Shala / No school / Not a single child is going to school / 30 / 16 / No

8 / MT Patil Stone Quarry Pashan Shala (Nashik) / Newly opened / 26 / Around 20 / 8 / No  

9 / Sai Stone Quarry and other stone quarries Pashan Shala (Nashik) / New quarry / Not a single child is going to school / -- / 150 / No  

Total / -- / 352 / -- / 186 / --

Source: Pashan Shala records, Santulan, Pune

Table 2.04: District data on migrant children

District-wise migrated number of children
Year / Total no. of children / Pune / Ahmadnagar / Kolhapur / Satara / Sangali / Total Migration / Percentage

1997-98 / 84 / 21 / - / - / - / - / 21 / 25

1998-99 / 148 / 26 / - / - / - / - / 26 / 18

1999-2000 / 186 / 63 / - / - / - / - / 63 / 34

2000-01 / 400 / 75 / - / - / - / - / 75 / 19

2001-02 / 534 / 150 / - / - / - / - / 150 / 28

2002-03 / 667 / 125 / 16 / - / - / - / 141 / 21

2003-04 / 1,388 / 352 / 8 / - / - / - / 360 / 26

2004-05 / 1,882 / 722 / 5 / 138 / 34 / - / 949 / 46

2005-06 / 2,028 / 591 / 13 / 165 / 3 / 20 / 792 / 39

2006-07 / 2,001 / 670 / 20 / 175 / 20 / 15 / 900 / 45

Total/ 9,318 / 2,795 / 62 / 478 / 57 / 35 / 3,477 / 37.31

Source: Dagad Phool, Santulan, 2007-08

Mine Accidents

Santulan has recorded 31 cases of mine accidents in four years, of which three cases were reported to be below 18 years of age. However, this data is incomplete and therefore cannot be taken as an accurate reflection of the situation of mine accidents, as records are not being maintained properly either by the mine workers, mine owners or by local organisations. Most of the time, the mine owners provide first-aid and primary treatment but no long term treatment or compensation is provided, however serious the injury. In many cases, workers have been made permanently disabled and could not continue work which pushes the burden of family survival on the children. A 15 year old boy was killed but his family was sent back to their village with a small compensation. This is only a glimpse into the larger situation that could be the reality for stone quarries across Maharashtra.

Health Condition of the Mine Workers and Their Children

Dr. Shitre who is a physician helping Santulan on a voluntary basis, stated that, on an average he treats 200 mine workers per week. He informed that most of the health problems were related to lung diseases and respiratory problems due to the dust from the quarries. He said that workers are found to have all three stages of respiratory illnesses—bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis and acute asthma. As they have to continue getting exposed to the dust inhalation, they try to get relief from alcohol and smoking but this aggravates the problem. According to the Pune-based Paediatric Unit of DY Patil Medical College, 50 per cent of the mine workers’ children have reduced lung functions with symptoms like asthma, tightness in the chest, wheezing, cough and breathlessness. Children exposed to the dust for over 5 years were the most affected. Many of them were exposed to the dust right from birth.55

In Suyog Nagar anganwadi, records show that, of the 211 children enrolled, 123 children are malnourished, mostly under Grade I. In most of the mining colonies, there are no anganwadis, neither are there any crèches at the mine site. So infants are taken to the work place, thereby exposing them to the dust, pollution and risk of accidents, as the parents cannot keep a watch over the children continuously. Table 2.05 gives the Bal Shikshan Kendras run by Santulan in the absence of anganwadi centres in the mine workers’ colonies between 1997 and 2007. This is a very small sample of children below 6 years of age who are not covered under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme which is the basic support institution for nutrition and protection of children. At a state level, there could be a much larger section of this child population who do not have anganwadis and therefore, parents are forced to take them to the mine site with no safety or nutrition available for these infants.

Blasting in stone quarry areas at Nashik….unsafe for surrounding villages and mine workers’ colonies (Photo September 2009)

Children of Balshikshan Kendra–in the absence of anganwadis, NGO provides mid-day meal (Photo September 2009) 

Table 2.05: Bal Shikshan Kendras with children (1997–2007)

Year / Pune Cnts / Pune Childn / Ahmad Nagar Cnts / Ahmad Nagar Childn / Kolhapur Cnts / Kolhapur Childn / Satara Cnts / Satara Childn / Sangali Cnts / Sangali Childn / Total Cnts / Total Childn

1997-98 / 1 / 35 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 1 / 35

1998-99 / 2 / 51 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 2 / 51

1999-2000 / 5 / 123 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 5 / 123

2000-01 / 9 / 320 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 9 / 320

2001-02 / 12 / 362 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 12 / 362

2002-03 / 15 / 375 / 1 / 30 / - / - / - / - / - / - / 16 / 405

2003-04 / 28 / 516 / 1 / 24 / - / - / - / - / - / - / 29 / 540

2004-05 / 17 / 464 / 1 / 18 / 1 / 26 / - / - / - / - / 19 / 508

2005-06 / 17 / 475 / 1 / 20 / 2 / 20 / - / - / - / - / 20 / 515

2006-07 / 18 / 469 / - / - / 3 / 88 / 1 / 31 / 3 / 42 / 25 / 630

Total / -- / 3,190 / -- / 92 / -- / 134 / -- 31 / -- 42 / -- / 3,489

Source: Dagad Phool, Santulan, 2007-08

A Pashan Shala teacher also observed that many of the children have stunted growth and during summer, due to increase in dust, children suffer from more allergies. In Wagholi there are more than 60 private medical practitioners, which speaks for the high flow of patients from the mining area. They take advantage of the workers’ ignorance as well as their desperate plight. A major spending of mine workers’ families is reported to be on private medical services and is also the main cause for indebtedness. Dr. Shitre also informed that more than 40 per cent of children are suffering from anaemia and women are suffering from anaemia and prolapsis of uterus. The women constantly complain of back pain, joint pains and dizziness. He stated that TB is mainly found in adults but due to this debilitating condition, children are forced to work in the mines. A lot of the cases of TB are suspected to be/likely to be silicosis, but as there are no facilities for diagnosis, and as there is a lot of arm-twisting by the mining companies to manipulate records, it is difficult to prove this. He also commented that the workers and their children also look much older than their age because of the harsh conditions and poor health.

The PHCs are too far from the mine sites and the workers have to forego their wages for the day and also spend money for the travel and hospital charges. During the field visit, the researchers found atleast three women, in advanced stages of their pregnancy, working in the mines, and all of them reported that they did not get vaccinated as the PHC is too far for them to walk. Dr. Shinde, Medical Officer of Bosri Hospital expressed that it was difficult to provide data for HIV/AIDs and other illnesses of mine workers as most of them are migrant workers.

Migration: A Lack of Identity

Migrant labour is synonymous with quarrying. It creates a nameless community with no certainty of life, with the mine workers’ greatest stress being lack of identity, stability and security. This lack of permanency deprives them of many of the basic amenities that are the rights for all citizens. Foremost among these is the problem of ration cards and below poverty line (BPL) cards. Very few own ration cards as they do not belong to the village community and do not have a proper proof of residence. In some sites, the workers informed that the mine owner keeps their rations cards (perhaps with the intention of keeping them bonded) and the mine workers have to purchase their ration in the open market. A 60 year old woman informed us that she finally got her ration card 4 months ago, but the PDS dealer has asked her to come back after 6 months as her name was not yet entered in his records. So mine workers end up spending heavily on paying the revenue staff but wait interminably to get their share of ration. This is also a reason for these poor families to be spending more on basic food, so therefore, their consumption is much below the basic daily intake required. Many of them stated that they had even stopped consuming tea, which is the most basic commodity, consumed as it keeps their energy high, since the price of sugar had suddenly shot up. The diet of mine workers’ children consists of barely two meals of rotis with chillies and onions and rarely any vegetables or dals. Hence, most of the children seen appeared to be malnourished and anaemic.

Table 2.06: Class-wise distribution of Pashan Shala children (1997– 2007)

Year /Class / I / II / III / IV / V / VI / VII / VIII / Total

1997-98 84 / - / - / - / - / - / - / - / 84

1998-99 / 144 / 4 / - / - / - / - / - / - / 148

1999-2000 / 107 / 79 / - / - / - / - / - / - / 186

2000-01 / 332 / 52 / 16 / - / - / - / - / - / 400

2001-02 / 494 / 25 / 15 / - / - / - / - / - / 534

2002-03 / 502 / 146 / 19 / - / - / - / - / - / 667

2003-04 / 1,157 / 148 / 47 / 36 / - / - / - / - / 1,388

2004-05 1,316 268 134 118 46 / - / - / - / 1,882

2005-06 / 1,265 / 349 / 202 / 95 / 76 / 21 / 20 / - / 2,028

2006-07 / 1,102 / 297 / 189 / 162 / 140 / 79 / 16 / 16 / 2,001

Total 6,503 1,368 622 411 262 100 36 16 / 9,318

Source: Dagad Phool, Santulan, 2007-08

Education is also severely affected and is reflected in the retention among children of mine workers. Table 2.06 shows the sharp decrease in class-wise retention among children of mine workers. It reflects on the highly migrant nature of these children who leave the schools because of the migratory pattern of their parents, whose livelihood in the quarries and mines is not guaranteed. Achieving the right to primary education for mine workers’ children is a huge challenge, given the highly erratic manner of migration. As stated by Santulan, unlike other sectors where migrant families return to their native villages seasonally, in the mining sector, mine workers shift from one mine to another wherever the contractors find work for them. Therefore, there is no link with their native village for the children and this completely amorphous nature of life and the social disconnect, gives rise to insecurity and the lack of an identity so strongly felt by the mine workers and their children.

Further, a caste-wise break up of children in Pashan Shalas— as given in Table 2.07—from the mine workers’ clusters, shows that while the Vadars are the majority population of mine workers, there is a signification increase in the SCs among the mine worker group. In the past, it was mainly the Vadar community who were traditionally involved in stone-breaking activities, but the crisis in agriculture in Maharashtra and neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka forced agricultural labourers from SC communities to shift to mine labour.


The case study of Maharastra clearly brings out the need for addressing the serious violation of rights of the migrant and unorganised sector workers in the mining industry. The link between mining and violation of the rights of children is mainly because of the unviable economics of quarrying and small-scale mining as far as workers are concerned. Their life is bound by a vicious cycle of low wages, hazardous work, uncertain livelihood, poverty, indebtedness, lack of basic facilities, death and, therefore child labour and child abuse. A clear association between landlessness, migration, ad hocness of the mine workers’ lives which translates into lack of basic institutions and protections for the children of mine workers, is visible. The shocking state of their housing, lack of access to potable drinking water and lack of institutional support for children—anganwadis, primary schools or NCLP schools—to provide nutrition and prevent them from child labour, is seriously missing. NCLP schools, which were conceived to take care of this section of children, were non-existent in the areas visited by us. The health condition indicates a need for urgent action on malnutrition and mine pollution related problems that these children were medically proved to be suffering from. As Maharashtra proceeds with its high growth infrastructure model of development, it has to make a conscious effort at meeting its commitments to the children given in the Eleventh Plan as well as the MDG goals.

Table 2.07: Socio-economic distribution of children in Pashan Shalas

Caste categories

District / Taluk No. of stone quarry clusters / No. of centres/ No. of children / SC / ST / VJ / NT / OBC / Open

Pune / Haweli / 6 / 40 / 1,268 / 246 / 50 / 710 / 67 / 92 / 103

Pune / Khed / 1 / 6 / 186 / 38 / -- / 116 / 11 / 15 / 6

Pune / Shirur / 3 / 4 / 120 / 12 / -- / 83 / 8 / 14 / 3

Pune / Daund / 1 / 1 / 23 / 7 / -- / 13 / 2 / -- / 1

Ahamadnagar / Ahamadnagar / 3 / 3 / 41 / 17 / -- / 21 / -- / 1 2

Ahamadnagar / Shrigonda / 1 / 1 / 10 / 2 / -- / 7 / -- / -- / 1

Kolhapur / Kaveer / 1 / 8 / 134 / 21 / 1 / 81 / 8 / 1 / 22

Kolhapur / Shirol / 1 / 4 / 117 / 52 / 11 / 27 / 2 / 8 / 17

Satara / Karad / 1 / 2 / 37 / 1 / -- / 34 / -- / 1 / 1

Sangli / Tasgaon / 2 / 3 / 19 / 3 / -- / 8 / -- / 2 6

Total / 20 / 72 / 1,955 / 399 / 62 / 1,100 / 98 / 134 / 162

VJ= Vimukta Jati; NT=Nomadic tribe

Source: Dagad Phool, Santulan, 2007-08

To achieve this, unless the regulations regarding quarrying and mining are reviewed to include viable living and working conditions for mine workers, the very economy of mining stands questioned. There have to be strong pre-conditions in terms of responsible mining towards workers as well as the environment, as the current processes of granting mining leases do not bring legally binding accountability. Especially as these are small in size and quantum of work, scattered in nature and therefore also provide scope for unchecked illegal extraction and processing, stringent measures for checks and balances are more necessary in this context. Our recommendations, in the context of small-scale mining and migrant labour, which are presented at the end of the report, are based on our experiences in Maharashtra, and other states that were a part of this study, which have a typical situation with regard to children affected by small scale mines and quarries.

(Acknowledgements: The above case study was done in partnership with Santulan, an organisation working for the rights of mine workers in Maharashtra. We wish to thank Mr. Bastu Rege, Mrs. Pallavi Rege and the team of Santulan for providing us with information and for organising the field visits.)

Children in stone quarries hit by lung disease
Anuradha Mascarenhas
Posted: Jan 05, 2008 at 0000 hrs IST

Pune, January 4 With their play tools being stone, mud and dust, children living in stone quarries in Pune district are exposed to environmental pollutants and face a high risk of chronic lung disease. Checking on the health conditions of children living at stone quarries at Moshi and Moi, some 20 kms away from Pune city, medicos were taken aback at their dismal lung function capacity.

The peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) of 150 children living at stone quarries at Moshi and Moi were examined and compared to those of children living in urban slum areas near Bhosari. The team of experts from the D Y Patil Medical College, Pimpri, who conducted the study and presented their findings at an international pediatric conference in Athens, were shocked to find a variation among the PEFR rates of children living at stone quarries and in urban slums.

Says Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar, head of the college’s Department of Paediatrics, the average PEFR of children living at stone quarries was 92.98 litres per minute as compared to the children living in urban slum areas whose PEFR was an approximate 135.2 litres per minute. “The peak flow meter measures the patient’s maximum ability to expel air from the lungs or the PEFR. Peak flow readings are higher when patients are well and lower when the airways are constricted,” explains Dr Sampada Tambolkar, one of the coordinators of the study that observed the children for a period of three months. From changes in recorded values, patients and doctors can determine the lung functionality, severity of asthma symptoms and treatment options.

This constant exposure to particulate matter in the form of dust particles has shown that there is a significant variation in the PEFR among children living at stone quarries. Children in the age group 3-18 years were observed for three months. Another batch of 150 children was identified at a slum in Bhosari. ``We observed that they suffered from symptoms like recurrent cold and cough, runny nose and breathlessness,’’ says Agharkhedkar who concluded in the study that exposure to dust particles has resulted in wheezing. ... equarries- hit-by-lung-disease/257713/

Ambaulim students face mining dust in classroom
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Seen in the photo dust created at the speed breaker due to spread of ore and primary school situated by the side of the road. Photo by John Fernandes.

The students of Government primary School Ambaulim Chinchawada Quepem are constantly exposed to dust pollution created by the overloaded mining truck.

The Government primary school which is adjacent to the Quepem Ambaulim main road wherein 19 students are studying. That just opposite to the school, in order to regulate the speed of the mining truck the PWD has put up a speed breaker. All the mining trucks plying over this route are overloaded, the iron ore constantly drops on the road particularly at the speed breaker which gradually turns into dust. “The dust problem is so much that most of the school children has developed sinus problem as a result the student often are sick which result in drop in attendance” informed the teacher of the school when contacted on a condition not to publish her name. ... stcreated- at-speed.html
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

Postby admin » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:19 am


State Overview

Rajasthan, the largest state in India in terms of area, has a population of 56,507,18856 and a total State Domestic Product (SDP) of Rs. 1,451 billion (2007-8).57 According to the Human Development Report Rajasthan 2008, the high growth rates that were seen in the state in the 1980s and 1990s have slowed down in the new millennium primarily due to a slowing down in the primary sector, mainly agriculture.58 Agriculture is still the largest employment sector in the state, with around 80 per cent of the population living in rural areas and dependent on farming for their survival.

Agriculture accounts for the largest single share in Rajasthan’s economy and was worth over Rs. 289 billion in 2006-07.59 Rajasthan’s other key sectors are manufacturing, construction, tourism and industries, such as textiles, rugs, woollen goods, vegetable oils and dyes. In the 1990s, there was a rapid increase in mining, unregistered manufacturing, communications and real estate. During the same period, there was a decrease in agriculture, forestry and registered manufacturing.60 This fall in registered manufacturing and rise in unregistered manufacturing, along with an increase in mining and quarrying work, has been highlighted as particularly worrying in terms of the availability of quality employment in the state.61

In the face of repeated droughts, and with more agricultural land being turned over to mining and industry, many people have been forced to devise alternative adaptation strategies for survival, as agriculture is becoming increasingly difficult to depend on. The rapid growth in population in the 1980s has meant that there has been a 2 per cent growth in the workforce leaving large numbers of people in Rajasthan in dire need of jobs. Although significant strides were made in reducing rural poverty in Rajasthan in the 1980s and 1990s—rural poverty declined from 33 per cent in 1983 to 13 per cent in 1999—this has marginally increased again during the new millennium.62

According to the Census 2001, 17.16 per cent of Rajasthan’s population are SCs and 12.56 per cent are STs. This is slightly higher than the national average of 16.2 per cent for SCs and 8.2 per cent for STs. The vast majority of the SC and ST population lives in the rural areas of Rajasthan and are traditionally dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The provision of education and healthcare in the rural areas has struggled to keep up with the growth in the state’s population. Whilst the population increased by 24 per cent between 1997 and 2006, the number of PHCs and sub-centres only increased by 10 per cent, from 1,616 to 1,712 respectively and from 9,400 to 10,515, during the same period. This may go some way towards explaining why the state still continues to perform poorly in terms of health outcomes.63 In 2006, the average life expectancy in Rajasthan was 61.7, which is lower than the national average of 63.2 for the same year.64

Literacy levels are also poor in the state; according to the 2001 Census, 61.03 per cent of the population are literate which is significantly lower than the national average of 66 per cent. Within this figure, there are shockingly sharp gender divides—76.46 per cent of the male population were found to be literate, compared to a meagre 44.34 per cent of the female population. The situation for SC and ST in the state is even worse, with only 31.18 per cent of rural SC women and 25.22 per cent of rural ST women literate.65

Status of Children

The total number of children 19 years and under in Rajasthan in 2001 was 28,033,445 and the number of children aged between 0 and 14 years was 22,543,231.66 This means that children constitute over 40 per cent of the state’s total population.

Although the official number of children out of school is only 155,338,67 the actual number is likely to be much higher than this. According to the 2001 Census, the number of children between 4 and 14 years working as child labour in the state was 1,262,570, constituting 10 per cent of India’s entire child labour force and placing Rajasthan behind only Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh in terms of child labour numbers. The NSSO painted an even more frightening picture in 2004-05, suggesting that 3,488,000 children between 5 and 14 years (over one in five children in the state) are child labourers. In stark contrast to this, despite the existence of 29 NCLP schools across Rajasthan, only 14,234 working children have been rehabilitated in the state through this programme.68

Official figures on the number of children working in all hazardous sectors are ridiculously low. There were reported to be only 3,026 children employed in hazardous occupations in Rajasthan in 1999.69 This is also contradicted by the Census data, which states that the number of children working in mining and quarrying alone in 2001 was 4,296.70

According to India’s only private survey of school education, Pratham’s ASER 2008 survey, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were the only two states where the number of out-of-school children did not decrease between 2007 and 2008.71 Their data indicates that 7.1 per cent of children between 5 and 14 years are out of school in the state, and that 37.6 per cent of children between 0 and 5 years are not enrolled in an anganwadi centre or pre-school.72 Within Rajasthan, there are also wide variations between districts. Notably, the mining districts visited as part of this study—Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer—all have large proportions of children aged between 5 and 14 years out of school; this is respectively 15 per cent, 12.1 per cent and 11.4 per cent. This therefore constitutes a significant proportion of children available as labour pool in these districts.

Children at MLPC day care centre (Photo July 2009)

Rajasthan also continues to experience high drop-out rates, with only 60 per cent of children who enrol in class I reaching class VIII. The drop-out rates are worst in the geographically difficult region (the desert area) and in the ST habited region (the south). In many areas, supply constraints continue to impede access to formal education for many children— facilities are poor, teachers frequently absent, and in 11 out of the 32 districts over 30 per cent of schools have only one teacher.73

Child health outcomes in Rajasthan are also poor. Around 80 per cent of children between six and 35 months are anaemic and 44 per cent of children under 3 years of age are underweight.

Most worryingly, there has been no improvement in these figures between 1992 and 2005, despite economic growth.74 Rajasthan is currently severely off-track in terms of reducing the IMR. According to the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, Rajasthan’s IMR in 2007 was 65 per 1,000 live births; this is significantly higher than the national average of 55 per 1,000.75 The densely populated areas of the northeast and the adivasi districts of the south have in fact observed an increase in the IMR in recent years.76 In spite of investments made in schemes such as the ICDS, the NFHS-3 found no decrease in child malnutrition in Rajasthan between its first survey in 1992-93 and its most recent survey, in 2005-06.77

Rajasthan’s sex ratio also raises cause for alarm, revealing ongoing gender discrimination in the state. According to the 2001 Census, the Rajasthan ratio is 921 females to 1,000 males; this is lower than the national average of 933 females to 1,000 males. Sex ratios in some of the western districts, such as Jaisalmer and Barmer, are particularly poor.78 Child marriage also continues to be serious problem in Rajasthan, with frequent stories in the media of forced child marriages taking place across the state in breach of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.

Mining in Rajasthan

Rajasthan produces almost all varieties of minerals found in India. There are 79 minerals present in the state, including metallic minerals such as copper, zinc, lead and silver, and nonmetallic minerals such as limestone, sandstone and lignite. In 2006-07, 58 minerals were produced in the state.79 Rajasthan has more mining leases than any other state in India—1,324 leases for major minerals, 10,851 for minor minerals and 19,251 quarry licenses for mining stones.80 There are 207 reporting mines in the state. According to the Ministry of Mines, the value of mineral production in Rajasthan in 2007- 08 was Rs. 49.31 billion, an increase of 6 per cent from the previous year.81 The state accounted for around 4.6 per cent of India’s mineral production that year.

Lignite mining in Barmer district (Photo July 2009)

Mineral production accounts for around three per cent of the state’s total revenue.82 Though minor minerals contribute more than 50 per cent in terms of the value of mineral production, their contribution to the total royalty received from mining in the state is just five per cent.83

More than 95 per cent of mining activities in Rajasthan are in the unorganised sector.84 There are thousands of unorganised mines and stone quarries in Rajasthan, some as small as onetwentieth of a hectare. These minor mineral leases cover an area of over 50,000 ha.85 Minerals are found across the entire state, but the majority of the mines and quarries are located across the southern and southeastern districts, one of the areas of the country most heavily populated by STs.

Rajasthan produces 10 per cent of the worlds’ and 70 per cent of India’s, output of sandstone.86 Given that most of the mining and quarrying in Rajasthan is carried out on small, informal sites, and that illegal mining is reportedly rampant, it is difficult to estimate the actual size of the workforce in the state. According to the Census, there were 233,130 people (main and marginal workers) employed in mining and quarrying in the state. Of these, 4,296 were reported to be children in the age group 5–14 years, and 29,498 were children up to 19 years.87

However, estimates suggest that closer to 2.5 million people work in Rajasthan’s mining sector, many driven there by the state’s persistent drought and the failure of agriculture. Of these, around 95 per cent are SCs and STs, 37 per cent are women and 15 per cent are children.88 This estimate would place the number of children working in mining in the state at around 375,000.

Research carried out by Mine Labour Protection Campaign (MLPC) in Bundi district found around 55,000 people working in the sandstone mines there. Of these, 85 per cent were migrant labour, 94 per cent were SCs and STs, approximately 20 per cent were children and 43 per cent were women who had been widowed. In total, around 90 per cent were in debt to their employers (‘contractors’) so can be considered ‘bonded labour’.89

Working conditions and wages are poor. Mine and quarry workers in the informal sector are provided with no basic safety or protective gear and accidents are frequent. Most accidents go unrecorded, but one report estimates that there are around 460 deaths a year in the mines90 and many more injuries. Workers are paid according to what they produce in a day, but almost all earn under the Rs. 100 a day that is the minimum wage in Rajasthan, and women and children earn much less than men, as they are not able to do the heavy work of breaking stones and instead are involved in tasks such as removing mine waste.91

Barmer district: Key facts

Total population: 1,964,835 (Census 2001)

Population (0–14 years): 847,335 (Census 2001)

Literacy rate: Total 58.99 per cent; Male 72.76 per cent; Female 43.45 per cent (Census 2001)

Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 11.4 per cent (ASER 2008)

Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 38.8 per cent (ASER 2008)

Number of child labour (5–14 years): 58,320 (Census 2001)

Under five mortality rate (ranking): 407 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

Jodhpur district: Key facts

Total population: 2,886,505 (Census 2001)

Population (0–14 years): 1,170,568 (Census 2001)

Literacy rate: Total 56.67 per cent; Male 72.96 per cent; Female 38.64 per cent (Census 2001)

Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 12.1 per cent (ASER 2008)

Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 48.6 per cent (ASER 2008)

Number of child labour (5–14 years): 51,206 (Census 2001)

Under five mortality rate (ranking): 249 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

Jaisalmer district: Key facts

Total population: 508,247 (Census 2001)

Population (0–14 years): 216,264 (Census 2001)

Literacy rate: Total 50.97 per cent; Male 66.26 per cent; Female 32.05 per cent (Census 2001)

Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 15 per cent (ASER 2008)

Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 60.5 per cent (ASER 2008)

Number of child labour (5–14 years): 12,869 (Census 2001)

Under five mortality rate (ranking): 332 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

A complete lack of social security means that contractors pay nothing towards medical costs for mining-related accidents and illnesses, and workers are forced to take unpaid time off frequently due to ill-health. Workers end up in debt to the contractors as they need to borrow money for medical costs, and this cycle of indebtedness is often passed down through the family. The mines and quarries of Rajasthan are primitive workplaces, with no drinking water or basic sanitation provided and often located far from the nearest medical facilities.

Situation of Children in the Mining-affected Communities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer Districts

Rani (name changed) is 10 years old and working in the sandstone mines in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She earns Rs. 70 a day, cleaning mine waste from 9.00 am till 5.00 pm. She works about 15 days in a month, because she gets tired and needs to rest, and sometimes is unable to find work in the local mines. She has been to school (an MLPC-run crèche) for just 2 days in her life. She is already addicted to gutka and fights with her mother to spend money on soap and gutka for herself.

Shristhi (name changed) is 16 years old and works in a mine site. Her father, who was a mine worker died of illness nearly 5 years back. She has one older sister (married), a younger sister who is at home, three brothers at school and one brother older than her is also a mine worker. Her mother too works in the mines. Shristhi earns about Rs. 100 a day working from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. She said that she had been working for nearly 4 years now as they needed the money to run the house. Around 2–3 days in a month she does not go to work as she rests at home. She suffers from leg and backache. Shristhi has never been to school.

Source: Interviews carried out in Bhat Basti and Gandero Ki Dhani, Jodhpur district, October 2009.

Background to the Research

Given the backdrop of the status of children’s overall health and literacy levels in the state, the case studies undertaken in the mining areas in Rajasthan, are reflective of these poor indicators and the denial of basic rights of the child in an environment of hazardous work, living conditions, social insecurity and lack of protection from violence and crime.

The research team visited three districts in Rajasthan in July 2009—Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer. Visits were made to mine sites and quarries, villages engaged in mining, villages located close to mine sites, anganwadi centres and PHCs.

Women and young girls walk long distances for mine work and for water (Photo July 2009)

Follow up interviews were carried out in Jodhpur district in October 2009. Although a huge variety of minerals are produced in Rajasthan, time constraints of the project meant that the team focused on sandstone, limestone and lignite for this study.


The communities involved in mining in both Jodhpur and Jaisalmer districts are mostly SCs and STs. All interviewed across the districts confirmed that the vast majority of the mine and quarry workers are from these groups and almost all are landless.92 Some of the mine workers interviewed in Jodhpur district had migrated from other parts of the state. These migrant workers were living in makeshift housing, close to the stone quarries. Most communities interviewed, however, had been living in these areas for many years and were previously engaged in agriculture. Residents of Gandero Ki Dhani village, a predominantly SC village in Jodhpur district, explained how they were the second generation engaged in mining work; prior to this, the village survived on agriculture and livestock herding. 93

Residents of an ST village in Jodhpur district, Bhat Basti, located close to Kaliberi mining area, explained how they used to be nomadic, but because of the increase in population in Rajasthan and less land availability, they could no longer find land for livestock grazing. As a result 20 years ago they were forced to sell their animals and move to this site, close to the mines in the hope of finding work.94 There were around 40 households living in this community, with around 8–10 children per family. All of the adults, and most of the children over 12 years, work in a mine, approximately 1.5 km away.

In Jethwai village, 12 km from the city of Jaisalmer, there were around 300 households. Villagers reported that 70 per cent of the people working in the limestone quarries here had come from outside the area (e.g. from Jodhpur district) and the remaining 30 per cent were from this area. Approximately 90 per cent of the inhabitants of Jethwai work in mining. The remaining 10 per cent own some livestock or work in Jaisalmer city.

Economic Context

Increasing amounts of land previously used for agriculture had now been converted for mining and quarrying activities. This is an extremely worrying situation, given that around 80 per cent of the state’s population still live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Many of the communities interviewed across all the districts had previously relied upon agriculture or livestock grazing for their survival, but were now working as daily wage labourers in the mines due to lack of available land.

“We used to be rich, but now we have nothing.”

-- Village leader from ST community, Bhat Basti, Jodhpur district

In Bhat Basti, Jodhpur district, residents explained how the land used to belong to the government, so they could use it to graze their animals on, but now it was all privately owned or encroached illegally by mine owners. There was no free land left, they explained, as people were even occupying the government land and mining there.95

In another village, Joga, in Jaisalmer district, there were around 2,500 inhabitants, 90 per cent of whom were dependent on agriculture and livestock. However, since industrial mining of limestone started on their doorstep 15 years ago, problems in the village had increased. The dust from the mines had destroyed their crops, and their livestock was dying after eating the dust-covered leaves.96

Houses of stone quarry workers in Jodhpur. (Photo July 2009)

According to their plans, the private companies operating there were meant to use water sprinklers to prevent the dust from spreading. However, the villagers claimed this never happens so dust was spreading all over the area. In addition to this, the flowing water that they previously had for agriculture, had been blocked off by the large plant close by, and by the walls formed once the mining company began digging stones. Before, they could cultivate their land twice a year; now they cannot cultivate at all.97

The campaign for National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) began in Rajasthan and is regarded by many as working more effectively there than in any other state, to provide work for the rural poor who lack alternative livelihood options. The Act states that in every family, one person is entitled to 100 days of work per year at the minimum wage. In several of the villages visited, people explained that in addition to mining work, a number of residents were employed in NREGA work. However, they argued that the NREGA was not operating properly in this area, as people were not being paid the full wages (Rajasthan’s minimum wage is Rs. 100 a day). The kind of work they were doing was road construction and building canals, but they are only being paid around Rs. 40–60 a day and being told that they have not worked properly or hard enough to earn their full Rs. 100.98 In Joga village, also in Jaisalmer district, over 100 people were reported to be getting work from the NREGA, but they also got less than the minimum wage of Rs. 80–90 per day.99

There were also problems in terms of delayed payments for work carried out under the NREGA. In Meghwal Basti, a SC community about 16 km from Jodhpur, all 13 households have a job card. It is mostly women who are the job cardholders. The reason given for this was that the NREGA payments were sometimes delayed beyond the 15 day payment period (the last payment had been delayed by 2 months). As the households were depedent on daily wage labour for their survival, if the men also worked under the NREGA there would be days when they would not receive any money. So the men continued to work as daily wage labourers in the mines and the women took up the NREGA work.100


Rajasthan has the second largest deposit of lignite in India after Tamil Nadu. Lignite, which is often referred to as ‘brown coal’, is used for steam electric power generation. In Barmer district, western Rajasthan, the state-owned Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals Limited has been expanding its lignite mining operations in recent years and now operates a huge open-cast mine near Giral village. Locals reported that many people have been displaced from this land. In keeping with the displacement policy for public sector companies, the displaced were offered only Rs. 2,000 for one bigha101 of land. However, locals explained that they were asking for Rs. 17,000 per bigha for their land and three villages in the area—Thumbli, Akali and Jalela—were now embroiled in a court case.102 Without their land, some former farmers were now forced to work as contract labour at the mine site and were employed in roles such as security guards and labourers there. At a public meeting on the land dispute in June 2009, locals were advised by officials that they should just accept the Rs. 2,000 being offered to them as: “The government is going to take your land by force anyhow, so it is better to take the compensation which the government is giving now.”103

“The government is telling us that this mining is going to be profitable to the country and that this is for India’s development. But if this is India’s development, are we not a part of India? Why is the government not considering us?”

-- Resident, Thumbi village, Barmer district

Thermal Power Project in Thumbli village (Photo July 2009)

At Thumbli village, residents explained how they were threatened with displacement by the lignite mining company, along with 15–20 other villages in the area.104 Each village has an average of 50 families, which amounts to around 3,000 children affected. The lignite mining began in 1994. Prior to this, all families were dependent on agriculture. In Thumbli, there are 15 families who lost all of their land to mining. Residents explained how within the next year, none in the village will have any land left as it will all have been taken by the government mining company. People are being told by the company that the government had subsoil rights wherever there is coal.

In addition to the poor compensation being offered, local people claim that they were not getting jobs in the mines and factories, and were told that they lack the necessary skills, as their traditional work is agriculture. People were being forced to migrate from their homes to find work—one person from each family was found to be moving to states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra to look for work on construction sites, thus causing a breakdown of family and community structures. This displacement has a serious impact on children, who are pulled out of school and forced into work when the economic situation of their family worsens.105

Lack of Alternatives to Mining

“The mine for us is agriculture. There’s nothing else”.

-- Female self-help group (SHG) member, Bhuri Beri village, Jodhpur district

“The good work was earlier— agriculture and animal husbandry”

-- Resident, Joga village, Jaisalmer district

In all the villages and mines visited, the same message was repeated over and over—there are no alternatives to mining work. If alternative livelihood opportunities were available to them, they were exhausted by the destruction of land and water resources due to mining activities. Otherwise people would leave the mines and quarries immediately, as this work is not viewed as ‘good work’. In some villages, people expressed concern about what will happen when the stones finish. In Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district, residents explained how the mines have been operating in the area for around 50 years, but now the stones are starting to get exhausted. The mine next to their village was likely to close in around five years time, leaving them with no form of employment, and therefore unable to support their families. Residents explained how some mines had already closed down around other villages in the area, such as Sipla, 38 km away, leading to a huge increase in unemployment, especially amongst the youth.106 The people of Jethwai are anxious to remain in the village, but fear that if the mining stops and no other work is made available to them, then they may be forced to migrate from the area. The impact of this, as explained later, has been on the local schools losing their children for mine work, given the poverty of the families here.

Children of stone quarry workers in Bhat Basti, Jodhpur (Photo July 2009)

Status of Education

“The main problem is the lack of education here. We are telling the government that we will give land and a building, but please give us a decent school. "e mines can close anytime but if our children are educated, they can find a job elsewhere.”

-- Mine worker, Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district

Across all three districts, parents recognised the importance of quality education for their children and highlighted this as a major concern in the mining areas. However, in all the communities the same crucial issues around education were raised—the lack of basic facilities in schools, teacher absence, the lack of secondary schools in the area. Parents expressed frustration over the fact that their children have been attending government schools for a number of years but were learning very little in these schools. One mine worker explained how his three children had been attending the government school, but there was no teaching there. So despite his extremely low wages, he was in the process of enrolling them in a nearby private school, where he hoped that the standard of education would be higher.107

In Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district, a similar situation could be observed. The residents explained how they had a government school up till class VII, but the teachers do not turn up. Because of this, drop-out rates have been high; earlier there were 120–130 children enrolled in the school, but now there are only 70–80. Some of these drop-outs can now be found working in the mines nearby. The villagers had filed complaints to the government about the teachers several times, but claim that the government does not listen. Some of the residents have now started a private school in the village with their own money, where 40 children are currently enrolled, but not all parents in the village can afford the Rs. 100 a month contribution.108

In Barmer district, similar problems were highlighted. A resident of Akali village explained how the teacher comes to the school but does not bother to teach anything, despite always taking his salary on time from the government.109 In Thumbli village, there has been a school since 1965, but this only runs till class VIII and the villagers explained how they did not have the money to send their children outside the village for education beyond class VIII.110 In Joga village, Jaisalmer, the school also only runs till class VIII, and out of 15 students, maybe only two or three go on to higher studies in one of the larger towns, leaving the majority of children without alternative career options but to work in mining.111

Child engaged in stone quarry at Kaliberi (Photo July 2009)

In a ST community in Jodhpur district, parents explained how the younger children were now attending the MLPCrun crèche close by, but that none of the older children were attending school as the nearest one was too far away (over 3 km) even though the parents are keen to educate their children. Some of the children stay at home all day in the village with the older women. Most of the children over 12 years old go to work in the mines with their parents. None of the approximately 350 children in the community were able to read or write.112

With little or no education, the children living in the mining communities around Rajasthan grow up with no alternative but to work in the mines and quarries like their parents. This will ensure that the cycle of poverty continues for these families. All the parents interviewed recognised the importance of education for their children, and many were making sacrifices on a daily basis to keep their children out of work and in school. But tragically the poor education that they are receiving in these government schools will ensure that for the vast majority of them, they will be left with no option but to follow their parents’ footsteps and work as daily wage labourers in the mines.

Child Labour

Thousands of children in the state are out of school and working in the mines and quarries. With the informal nature of the sector, and the vast number of mine and quarry sites across the state, it is difficult to accurately estimate the number of children involved. However, in just one mine in Kaliberi, Jodhpur district, mine workers reported that there were more than 100 children—over 50 of whom are girls—working in the mine and that children tend to start work there when they reach 12 years of age.113 Children are employed to fill tractors with stones and earn around Rs. 80 for every tractor filled. Children under 12 years of age are usually not strong enough to carry out this work, but in Bhat Basti residents explained how some of the younger children (around 9–10 years old) run away sometimes to the mines to earn around Rs. 10 for a day’s work.114

Mine workers in Bhuri Beri village, Jodhpur district, said that children aged 15 years old worked in the mines where they work. Some mine workers said that their children were also employed in other forms of labour, such as in tea shops and hotels. When a mother or father dies, children are generally taken out of school to go to work in the city.115 Illness and death of a parent also results in children being forced to take up work in the mines. Two sons of Aarti (name changed) in Bhuri Beri aged 15 and 12 work in the sandstone mines while another 12 year old grazes goats. Bimla Devi’s husband died of TB and she herself was being treated for the same. In Gandero Ki Dhani, another widow Sonu (name changed) who is diagnosed with TB has a 12 year old son working in the mines.

Meeting with stone quarry workers, including child labour at Kaliberi (Photo July 2009)

Several children between 12 and 15 years old were interviewed in the mines around Jodhpur district. Most said that they had been working there for a few months, since they had dropped out of school and earned between Rs. 30 and Rs. 50 a day, filling trucks and doing other similar heavy tasks.116 Most adult mine workers interviewed said that children earned around Rs. 50–60 per day working in the mines. Several villages explained that only children from the very poor families are working; the others send their children to school. In one village, for example, residents estimated that around 90 per cent of the children in the village attend school; the remaining 10 per cent (around 250 children) were out of school. In this area of Jodhpur district, several children were spotted driving stone-filled trucks; none of these children looked more than 14 years old. None of the children either had any work safety gear that could protect them from the risks of accidents, injuries or even minor bruises. For the children, there is no choice and the risks are high especially during the initial years of work when they had not yet gained the expertise to handle the mining work. The workers reported that they were easily susceptible to eye injuries, mine-slips and mine collapse, breaking of limbs or their back due to falling, or from stones crashing over them.

Health Impacts

“The younger people in the mines are OK, but as you get older the breathing problems start.”

-- Mine worker, Kaliberi, Jodhpur district

Across the state, mine workers reported numerous health problems, particularly breathing problems caused by dust inhalation. Every village and mine site reported widespread cases of TB, which seem to emerge once a worker is not even around 40 years of age. In several places, people talked about lung problems but did not know if they were suffering from TB or silicosis. Others claimed that when people do suffer from silicosis, the government says that it is TB anyway and they are treated for TB.117 The mine workers and their children regularly suffer from coughs, colds, fevers and eye infections. In a PHC close to a mining area in Jodhpur district, the nurse reported that he treats a large number of respiratory illnesses. They had 27 people undergoing treatment for TB at the time of the interview, and he stated that even more cases were being treated in the sub-centres in that area.118 The nurse explained how they also have cases of silicosis but this was much more difficult to diagnose with only only four or five cases having been diagnosed in this PHC, so far.

Stagnant water in mine pits, breeding mosquitoes, Kaliberi (Photo July 2009)

Women explained that they continued to work until they were eight months pregnant, carrying out heavy work like lifting mine waste and loading trucks. Due to a lack of any kind of maternity benefits, and due to the extreme poverty at home, they are forced to return to work within 15–20 days after delivery. One pregnant woman interviewed complained of intense pain in her chest. Besides, the distance to the PHC being too far, the women cannot afford to give their time and money to travelling to the PHC for any treatment.

Across all the mining areas, people told of an increase in malaria due to the stagnant water in the mines. "is was supported by the PHC in Jodhpur district, where the nurse explained that the water level increases in the mines in the rainy season, allowing mosquitoes to breed and leading to an increase in malaria cases. According to the nurse, the area had been identified with a ‘red dot’ by the World Health Organisation to show that it was a highly malaria affected area.

It is not just mine workers who are suffering from increased health problems in the area. In "umbli village, Barmer district, villagers reported an increase in health problems amongst the communities living near the lignite mines. "e plant works day and night, covering the whole area with dust. People said they were now bringing up black phlegm when they cough. "e village was also witnessing an increase in malaria, which they attribute to the wastewater from the mining plant. In Fidusar Chopar PHC, the nurse also reported a large number of liver problems from alcohol abuse and claimed that more than 90 per cent of male mine workers consumed alcohol every day. He also explained how more than 200 mining trucks passed through this area every day and many of these truck drivers have sexual relations with local women. However, they only recently started HIVtesting in the PHC, so they did not yet have data available on this.119

As well as malaria, the most common child health complaints across all the districts were pneumonia, coughs, colds and diarrhoea (from the lack of clean water and sanitation available). In all the communities visited by the research team, people said that their children had been vaccinated against polio but most were unsure if their children had had any other vaccinations, and check-up following birth seemed to be rare.

Many of the children in the mining areas seemed to be suffering from malnutrition. “We don’t know what we will eat tomorrow” explained one female mine worker, living in Bhuri Beri, in Jodhpur district. One woman interviewed was carrying a small baby who looked no more than 9 months old, but she claimed he was 2 years of age. In several villages, women said their children had never been weighed or their growth, measured. Residents of "umbi village, Barmer district, claimed that there had been an increase in children’s illnesses, particularly malnutrition, malaria and fever since the lignite mining plant began operations 15 years ago.120

Interviews carried out by MLPC with Salumber PHC, in Morilla village, Udaipur district revealed that levels of child malnutrition were also high in the mining area there. "e PHC staff explained how most of the children in the area were malnourished; among the families involved in mining, all their children were found to be malnourished.121

It is hardly surprising that child malnutrition levels are said to be increasing in these areas. With the breakdown in agriculture, many people interviewed said that they had almost no vegetables in their diet. They eat twice a day and their meal consists of roti and occasionally dal, though often just chillies. Before, people grew their own vegetables; but now they have to buy them in local towns and these are very expensive. Many families just could no longer afford to buy vegetables.

Malnutrition coupled with hazardous work results in the children suffering from several chronic and persistent ailments. Body pains, respiratory infections and dizziness were the common complaints that children working in the mines stated. In order to withstand these, it was also clear that they were addicted to gutka and alcohol. We saw child labourers quarrelling with their mothers to give back some of their wages in order to purchase these drugs.

Inadequate Health Facilities

Several villages said that although there was a government PHC close by, these often have no doctors and lack essential medicines, such as those for malaria treatment. Instead, they are forced to travel to private clinics and pay for treatment when they are seriously sick or injured. Residents from Jethwai village, Jaisalmer district, explained how before the PHC was too far away but they lobbied with the government and provided space in a building so the PHC was moved to their village. However, there was no doctor’s post there and the nurse was said to be absent most of the time. If they fell sick, they have to take the bus to the government hospital in Jaisalmer.122 There is also a PHC in Joga village, but the doctor only comes once a month and the nurse has studied only till class IV, as told by the villagers. Their nearest hospital is 60 km away in Jaisalmer and a bus service was started only a month before the study team visited the village.123

Access to Water

Continuous drought for the past 20 years has created enormous water problems in Rajasthan. The recent failure of agriculture in the state has been largely attributed to the lack of rainfall, particularly in the western part of the state. Increased mining activity has also added to this pressure, with a number of villages reporting that their water had been siphoned off by companies for mining activities. Just outside Joga village, a wall was built by a mining company next to the agricultural land previously cultivated by the village. This meant that the water no longer flows down onto the agricultural land leaving no water for irrigation.124

“All of our money is spent on water.”

-- Female mine worker, Bhat Basti, Jodhpur district

Other villages reported that they were forced to spend a significant percentage of their meagre earnings from mining on water for their basic needs. In Bhat Basti village, there is no water supply so they have to pay for tankers. One tank of water contains 3,000 litres and costs Rs. 400. A woman interviewed in Bhat Basti explained how water was so scarce in their village, that she was unable to bathe her children. Her six daughters were covered in dust and grime, and when she was asked about their health and hygiene she explained how water was so scarce, she could not afford to waste it on bathing her children.125

In crisis ridden Jaisalmer, poor water management and seepage (Photo July 2009)

In Bhuri Beri village, Jodhpur district, female mine workers explained how despite the dirty, dusty work they carried out, they were unable to bathe every day due to water scarcity in the area. They reported that they get their water from a hand pump but this regularly breaks down and does not get fixed for weeks. They pay Rs. 50 a month to get salty water for washing their clothes.126


It is clear from the interviews carried out in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer, as well as from the large number of NGO and media reports available on mining in Rajasthan, that child labour continues to be a huge problem in the stone quarrying sector in the state. Despite the fact that child labour is so visible in the stone quarries across Rajasthan, there is no concerted effort by either the government or mining operators there to address the problem.

In addition to child labour, there are other serious but less well publicised issues affecting children in the mining areas of the state. Malnutrition was a serious problem in all mining-affected communities visited, and this appeared to be getting worse with the reduction in available agricultural land as more and more is acquired for mining and quarrying. The provision of healthcare and education in the mining areas was also found to be seriously lacking. Health centres without doctors and schools without teachers were frequent problems reported by the communities.

As with other case study areas, an urgent comprehensive assessment of the status of children of mine workers, as well as of local communities, and the status of the institutional structures for children have to be immediately addressed in the state. A review of the nature and scale of mining in Rajasthan has to be urgently taken up so that indicators of Rajasthan’s growth are not just calculated from the trade in stones but also from the human development, and especially child development indicators which are in a shameful state in mining affected Rajasthan.

(Acknowledgements: The above case study was done in partnership with MLPC, Jodhpur which is working for the rights of mine workers in the villages from where the data was collected.)

Many of the Workers in the Mines of India are Children
News & Communications, DUKE UNIVERSITY
Tuesday, November 8, 2005

DURHAM, N.C. -- When we arrived that morning in Bhat Basti, a crowd of excited children swarmed around our jeep before I could even open the door. One of them was a pretty 12 year-old girl named Raju. She spends her days toiling in the cavernous quarries of India.

Bhat Basti is a cramped mining village that’s sprung up on the scorched earth where the desert meets the city of Jodhpur. That day, I visited with my colleagues from GRAVIS, the local non-governmental organization where I’ve been working as a researcher for the past four months.

Persistent droughts forced Raju’s family to migrate to the city for work. But after laboring in the mines, her father died of silicosis, or occupational lung disease. When her mother fell sick earlier this year, the burden of supporting the family fell to Raju.

She now earns 50 rupees (US $1.25) for each 12 hour day of clearing rubble from the bottom of the mine. Because her low caste status limits her opportunities and the dominating mine owners limit her freedom, it’s unlikely that Raju will ever escape this cycle of poverty.

Yet Raju’s story is hardly unique: Of the two million mine workers in Rajasthan, an estimated 20 percent are children.

Reckless In Raniganj
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 50, Dated Dec 20, 2008

Life here is a step away from catastrophe — but desperation forces many into activities that undermine their own future, says TUSHA MITTAL

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Muskaan is kneeling close to a patch of fresh, hot coal. She is sorting charcoal pieces that she will pile into a bamboo basket for her father to carry across the town of Raniganj. Everyday, groups of other men, women and children join her at this coalburning ghat, only a few kilometres from the city’s main market. The coal that comes to them is mined and sold illegally. The irony is that Raniganj sits in the heart of India’s coal belt, yet residents rely on illegal coal to cook their daily food. If caught, Muskaan can end up in prison for months without trial, but a lonely constable in khaki from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), watching passively at the sidelines provides the much-needed assurance.

But as Muskaan bends over, she doesn’t know that the ground below could be a hollow cavern, a void created by the same illegal mining she’s a part of. Today, after years of unscientific coal mining, Raniganj is suspended over a thin crust of land; over a labyrinth of vacant galleries. Locals live in fear that someday, the entire town with its 35,000 plus population could cave in. As they ply through the town’s dense alleys, no one knows where, or when, the feeble earth will crumble. asp?filename=Bu201208reckless_in.asp
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

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Madhya Pradesh

State Overview

The total population of Madhya Pradesh in 2001 was 60,348,023.127 In 2006-07, the state had a GDP of Rs. 962.5 billion. Although almost half of the GDP came from the tertiary sector (including railways, trade, hotels and restaurants) the largest single sector was agriculture, accounting for Rs. 230 billion of the state’s GDP.128 More than 80 per cent of the population in the state depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The state is heavily forested, with forest cover of around 1.7 million ha. In 2006-07, Rs. 13.9 billion of its revenue came from forest products. However, in the period between 1980 and 2008, a total of 11,970 ha of forest land in the state were diverted for mining.129 Mining accounted for Rs. 35 billion or 3.66 per cent of the state’s GDP in 2006-07.

The Human Development Report 2007 for Madhya Pradesh described the general state of human development as ‘progressive but backward in Madhya Pradesh’.130 The rural areas and parts of the southwest, southeast, northwest and central belts are described as being more backward than the rest of the state. These are also the regions that are forested and have a large ST population. Overall, the state has a very high number of STs as a proportion of the total population—12.23 million or 20.4 per cent of the total state population. There is also a large SC population in the state—9.15 million or 15.2 per cent of the total population.131 Around 38.3 per cent of the state’s population lives below the poverty line; this is far higher than the all-India average of 27.5 per cent. Amongst the SC population, these figures are even higher—67.3 per cent of SCs in urban areas live below the poverty line and 42.8 per cent in rural areas.132

Literacy rates also reveal the continued practice of widespread discrimination and marginalisation in the state. Although 63.74 per cent of the state’s population is literate, only 55.39 per cent of SCs living in rural areas and 41.16 per cent of rural ST population are literate. The figures are even worse for women, with only 28.44 per cent of ST women being literate.133 Life expectancy in Madhya Pradesh is also lower than the national average – 57.4 years, as compared to India’s average of 63 years.

Status of Children

In 2001, there were 23,252,416 children aged 14 years and under in Madhya Pradesh, and 28,943,033 aged 19 years and under134, meaning that children constitute over 40 per cent of the state’s population. According to official statistics, there were 181,424 children aged between 6 and 14 years out of school in the state.135 However, the state government claimed that 296,979 children aged between 5 and 14 years were out of school in 2006-07. 136 Pratham’s ASER 2008 survey estimates that 1.9 per cent of children in that age group remain out of school in the state, and around 8.8 per cent of 3–4 year olds are not enrolled in an anganwadi centre or pre-school. 137

According to Census data, there were 1,065,259 children aged between 5 and 14 years working as child labourers in Madhya Pradesh in 2001.138 There is very little data available on the number of children working in hazardous occupations in the state. In 1999, the central government reported that there were 11,259 children employed in hazardous occupations in Madhya Pradesh,139 but this may well have increased since then, as the list of hazardous occupations has been expanded. The NCLP is currently operating in only 17 out of the 50 districts in Madhya Pradesh. In 2006-07, there were 2,824 children rescued and rehabilitated under the scheme, bringing the total number of children rehabilitated in the state by May 2007 to 3,519.140 This is likely to be a very small percentage of the actual number of children employed in hazardous occupations across the state. Census data shows that there were 2,747 children between 5 and 14 years working in mining and quarrying in the state in 2001, and a total of 12,655 children 19 years and under working in the sector. 141

The situation of child health in the state is also worrying. Madhya Pradesh has IMR and under five mortality rates far higher than the national average—69.5 per 1,000 live births and 94.2 per 1,000 live births respectively, as against the national figures of 57 and 74.3.142 The state also made the headlines in 2008 for having the highest levels of child malnutrition in India. According to NFHS-3, around 60 per cent of children in the state are malnourished. This means that the rate of malnutrition in children has actually increased by 5 per cent in the state in the past decade, a situation exacerbated by poor rains and the global food crisis.143 Madhya Pradesh also has a low sex ratio—920 girls to every 1,000 boys— indicating that female foeticide and girl child preference are likely to be prevalent in the state.144

Mining in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is the sole producer of diamonds and slate in India. The state is also the leading producer of copper concentrate, pyrophyllite and diaspore. In 2007-08, the value of mineral production in the state was Rs. 80.62 billion, an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year.145 Madhya Pradesh accounted for 7.4 per cent of the total mineral production in the country, making it the sixth largest mineral producer in India. There were 319 reporting mines in the state in 2007-08. In terms of general trends, the production of coal and manganese ore in the state has increased over the years, but the production of bauxite and copper ore has decreased.

Stone quarries and diamond mines exist together in Panna (Photo August 2009)

According to figures provided by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, there were 54,000 people officially employed in 160 reporting mines in the state in 2005. This is a slight decrease from 57,300 employees in 2002. However, other figures also provided by the Ministry suggest the number may be slightly higher, indicating that 30,000 people are employed in underground mines in the state, 10,000 in opencast mines and 16,000 in above ground mines.146 The actual number of people working in mining in the state is likely to be substantially higher than this, because of the existence of artisanal and small-scale mining. According to the Census, there were 177,249 people working in mining and quarrying (main and marginal workers) in Madhya Pradesh in 2001. Of these, 2,747 children aged between 5 and 14 years were working in mining in the state in 2001, and 12,655 in the age group 5 and 19 years.147

Panna district: Key facts

Total population: 856,558 (Census 2001)

Population (0–14 years): 349,322 (Census 2001)

Literacy rate: Total 61.36 per cent; Male 73.33 per cent; Female 47.97 per cent (Census 2001)

Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 1.5 per cent (ASER 2008)

Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 89.7 per cent (ASER 2008)

Number of child labour (5–14 years): 13,303 (Census 2001)

Under five mortality rate (ranking): 587 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

An estimated 31.7 per cent of the country’s diamond reserves are located in Panna district, Madhya Pradesh.148 The diamond belt covers around a 1,000 km area. The NMDC, a government-owned company, is the only organised producer of diamonds in the country, from its Majhgawan mine, 20 km from Panna town. Majhgawan is the only mechanised diamond mine in Asia and was discovered in 1827. In January 2001, the mine and plant was upgraded for 84,000 carats production per year, which was a huge increase from 15,000 carats in 1984. Every year, the land is leased to prospective miners by the government agency. The diamonds are then collected by the district magistrate of Panna, and auctioned four times a year. However, a large quantity of diamonds are mined illegally and smuggled out of the state to polishing units in Surat in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra. There are over 3,000 illegal mines in the district and an estimated 90 per cent of diamonds mined in the area are sold illegally.149

Diamond mining is the only source of livelihood for many people living in the district. However, as with most artisanal diamond mining areas across the world, the labourers get a tiny fraction of the value of the stones they find.

Diamonds Are Not a Girl’s Best Friend: ‘For Her, Who Digs, Cuts and Polishes, Diamonds Are Forever a Curse’

“My name is Sudeep. I am working with my father here in the stone quarries since 3–4 years. Now I am 18 years old. I come from Panna village. There is no fixed rate of payment for the work I do. For digging out one plate of stone we get Rs.70–120 per day. In a day we can take out 5–6 plates of the stone, as a group. I can say that I earn Rs.100– 120 in one day. But I can only work for 12–15 days in a month as the work is very strenuous. I have never been to school”.

Source : Interview carried out in Purna Panna stone and diamond quarries, Panna, August 2009

This is the story of the glittering refractions of a piece of carbon that fragment the childhood of the poor dalit and adivasi children of Panna. Panna district was originally a Gond settlement until the thirteenth century and became geographically of strategic value after the importance gained to the minerals found here. Panna is famous for its diamonds which are located in a belt extending for 80 km across the district. It also has many stone quarries that stretch across the entire district and yet, Panna is one of the poorest districts in the state, graded as ‘C’ category.

This case study covered two minerals–stone quarries and diamonds–both of which are found together in Panna district. At present the major diamond mining is assigned to a Government of India undertaking, the NMDC Diamond Mine Project. The belt starts from Paharikhera Northeast to Majhgawan Southwest and has a width of around 30 km. There are several small-scale open-cast diamond mines in Panna. There are at least 121 leases in Panna district150 for diamond extraction. The villages covered for the study were Bador, Jhallar, Janawar, Umraban, Chainsingh Dharampur, Hardua Rakseha and Gandhigram, all falling under Panna and Ajaigarh blocks in Panna district.

Demographic Profile of the District

Panna is a district in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The town of Panna is the district headquarter. The district is a part of Sagar Division. Panna district was created in 1950, shortly after India’s independence, from the territory of several former princely states of British India, including the states of Panna, Jaso, most of Ajaigarh, and a portion of Paldeo. It has five blocks and six towns. The proportion of the ST population in the district is a little above 13 per cent and that of the SC population is marginally higher, at 15 per cent. The major adivasi group in the district is Gond.

Despite its rich mineral wealth and its status as the sole producer of diamonds in India, Panna remains one of the least developed districts in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The district has a HDI ranking of 0.479, meaning that it ranks fifth from the bottom in the state. This is considerably lower than Indore, at the top of the list with a ranking of 0.710.151 Per capita income in Panna is also strikingly low—0.274 on the HDI ranking scale—the fourth lowest in Madhya Pradesh. The district has serious challenges to face in terms of providing its population with basic amenities. Only 34.6 per cent of households have electricity and a dismal 11.1 per cent of households have a toilet. A tiny 6.8 per cent of households in the district have electricity, a toilet and access to safe drinking water.152

Panna also has a lower than average sex ratio for the state—907 girls to 1,000 boys, as opposed to 920 for the state as a whole.153 This suggests a high degree of female foeticide and discrimination against girls in the district. In 2002, it was reported that over 61 per cent of women in the district marry before they reach 18 years of age.154 Not surprisingly, both the IMR and under five mortality rate is high in Panna— respectively 93 per 1,000 live births and 132 per 1,000 live births. 155

According to the Census, 13,303 children between 5 and 14 years were working as child labourers in the district in 2001. As the NCLP is not currently active in Panna, there are currently no government programmes to address child labour in hazardous occupations in the district.

How Diamonds Are Mined

Increasing amounts of land previously used for agriculture had now been converted for mining and quarrying activities. This is an extremely worrying situation, given that around 80 per cent of the state’s population still live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Many of the communities interviewed across all the districts had previously relied upon agriculture or livestock grazing for their survival, but were now working as daily wage labourers in the mines due to lack of available land.

Children working in diamond mines under contractor’s supervision (Photo August 2009)
Impact of Displacement and Resettlement on Adivasis in Panna in the Context of Mining

From the claws of the tiger to the clutches of the mining mafia, the adivasis in Panna fell prey to India’s development policies that pit conservation against human rights. Villages displaced by the Panna Tiger Reserve were either forcibly relocated by the government or had to migrate out and find land for themselves. Whereas earlier the adivasi communities had large areas of land to cultivate and were traditionally involved in agriculture and forestry, they are now confined to small patches and are unable to sustain their livelihoods through farming alone.

Besides, the resettlement area is uncultivable land, unlike their earlier fertile lands. The money that was allocated for land development was barely utilised for this purpose as the government retained the money and did not implement the activities properly. There were two phases of relocation and different packages of rehabilitation that left some with only monetary compensation. In the first phase, the local organisation, Pathar Khan Mazdoor Sangh (PKMS) informed the study team that, each displaced family was given Rs.36,000 and 5 acres of land. In the second phase Rs.10 lakhs was given as cash compensation, but only Rs. 9 lakhs was directly given to the people and a lakh was retained by the government for land development. However, the people complained that they did not receive most of this money which was lost in paying the different levels of administrative machinery that processes their compensation money.

Displacement, has adversely affected the livelihood of the communities as many of the families including children, now work in the stone quarries and diamond mines or are migrating to far off places like Delhi, Amritsar and other towns in Punjab, or Goa.

Status of Adivasis After Displacement

The Gonds, who are the main adivasis here, have to now live with other mainstream castes like Yadavs and Mahars who are more dominating and have better access to land as the Gonds came here only recently and are a more diffident community. A village elder stated bitterly that as there is no work in the village, many of the younger people were migrating to other areas. In addition, with the introduction of NREGA there has been an increase in corruption that has destroyed the peace in the village. The people seconded his comments adding that they do not get even 10–20 days of work in a year, so it really does not provide them any guaranteed employment. Moreover, the Thakurs and Yadavs dominate the villagers and grab whatever schemes reach their village, whether it is BPL cards or NREGA job cards. Wages according to the NREGA is currently Rs.85 per person day.

Adivasi child from displaced family, axe at his side, has a frugal meal before leaving for the mines (Photo August 2009)

Umraban village is a stark example of what displacement means to people. This is an adivasi village having a population of around 200. According to the villagers about 15 families migrated out of the village. Most of the youth here work as construction labour or are involved in other manual labour in mining.

Another example is Janawar area gram panchayat, which was the first to be displaced by the Panna Tiger Reserve. There are 54 families here, and, at the village meeting that was attended by most of the adults and children, people spoke about the poor rehabilitation. They said that 17 of the displaced families are yet to be rehabilitated. New Jhallar village, which is a resettlement site of the displaced from the tiger reserve area, is an example of how the adivasi farmers have been left completely landless and without any livelihood after losing their lands. They had to shift close to forest land which is not considered ‘legal’ for them to own and they do not have the skills of working in the mines either. Hence, they have no alternate source of livelihood and may end up as mine labour very soon if government does not take up rehabilitation, or if the forest land is not given to them under the recently enacted Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act.

In Gandhigram too, as in the surrounding area, all the displaced adivasi families suffer discrimination from the upper castes as they have been forced to live with them after relocation. At the village meeting, the people reported that around 40–50 persons from the village have migrated out to the cities, for lack of sustenance.

Status of Anganwadis and Schools

The mining activities, compounded by the displacement of adivasi villages for the Panna Tiger Reserve have led to a breakdown of institutional mechanisms, or where they exist, they are made irrelevant to the child in the current situation of impoverishment. The study team visited the anganwadi centres and primary schools which are the main institutions of support for education and nutritional development of the child.

Of the total population of 200 in Umraban village between 60 to 70 persons are below 18 years of age. The primary school in the village has an enrolment of 39 children of which 21 are boys and 18 are girls, all of whom are STs. Of these children around eight, mainly girls, do not go to school but accompany their parents for work in the diamond mines and quarries or to take care of their younger siblings while their parents are at work. As this village is not very close to the road, the teacher is not regular and because of this, absenteeism among children was also reported. According to the survey conducted by PKMS, there are over 40 children below 6 years of age in this village, but there is no anganwadi facility in Umraban.

In Mannor village, according to his survey, there are 126 children enrolled in the primary school of which 60 are boys and 66 are girls, all from ST families. There is no school building at present and children were found to be studying under a tree. However, a new school building was under construction at the time of this study. Only about two children have studied upto class V in this village.

Mannor has mining activities very close to the village and hence 20–25 children of the age group of 8 years and above work regularly in the diamond mines and stone quarries. In this village, there is an anganwadi, which has an enrolment of 127 children between 0 and 6 years of age. However, only 25–30 children regularly go to the anganwadi, as the rest are taken to the mine sites by the parents because the anganwadi does not take care of the children all through the day.

Bador village has a population of 650, as stated by PKMS, of which 200 children are enrolled in the primary school. There are 112 boys and 88 girls, with ST boys numbering 78 and ST girls numbering 66, and the rest are SC (three boys and one girl) and OBCs (49) and General (3). However, when the team visited the school there were only 30–35 children attending and the headmaster said that majority of the children go for mine labour work. The anganwadi in this village has an enrolment of 96 infants but only 80 attend the anganwadi regularly. There are 40 children in the age group of 0–3 years and 40 children in the age group of 3–6 years. The anganwadi is mainly managed by the sahayaka or assistant who is an adivasi girl but the anganwadi teacher, who is from the Yadav caste neither attends regularly nor treats the children with care. Hence, the women said that they are not too happy to send their children to the local anganwadi. The anganwadi worker said that three infants were identified by her, as severely malnourished, and she got the children admitted at the district hospital at Panna. In reality, the PKMS, expressed that most of the children are malnourished and do not have adequate diet or sanitation.

Purana Panna is a gram panchayat village with a large population. It has a primary school with strength of 154 children, of whom 71 are boys and 83 are girls. Here again, as the mines are close to the village 15–20 children regularly go for work in the diamond mines, which are privately run by contractors, and do not attend school. The anganwadi in this village has 124 children, with 56 girls and 68 boys. Ten pregnant women and 16 women who have just delivered, are registered here. Of the children enrolled in the anganwadi, only 25–30 children go to the anganwadi regularly as the others are taken to the mine sites by their parents. Hence, most of the infants were seen to be in the mine sites, exposed to the dust from the quarries and this is a serious hazard to their health, particularly with respect to respiratory infections.

Half the adivasi population who were displaced from Jhallar relocated to Janawar and settled in the forest land behind the village. This new resettlement colony, called New Jhallar, has a mini-anganwadi which is linked to Panna anganwadi and has 23 girls and 20 boys enrolled here. It is mainly taken care of by the sahayaka who cooks the supplementary food allotted to this colony. There is a primary school here but without a building (as it is forest land and they do not have permission to construct a building) but there are 15–20 children of school-going age here. There is no teacher appointed here, but a teacher is sent from the primary school of Janawar village for an hour every day to teach the children. In Jhallar village, the sarpanch, who was instrumental in preparing the rehabilitation policy, said that there is only one primary school to which five girls and 10–12 boys go regularly. He stated that the literacy rate of the village does not exceed 5 per cent. The sarpanch also admitted that atleast 10–20 children below the age of 18 years are working in the mines or in tea stalls or other petty shops besides doing additional work at home like agricultural labour or grazing the cattle.

In Gandhigram village the population is 250, and children enrolled in the primary school which is attached to Janakpur gram panchayat, is 135. However, only 70–80 children regularly attend school and the rest are involved in working in the diamond mines and stone quarries. The village is surrounded by both stone quarries and diamond mines on a very large scale and therefore the incidence of child labour working in the mines is higher. The anganwadi is closed, reportedly because of a case against the anganwadi worker. Children are, therefore, unable to access any supplementary nutrition in this village.

Table 2.08 presents the official data, District Information System for Education (DISE report card 2008), regarding school enrolment in some of the villages where the above primary information was collected. There are variations in the primary and secondary sources of information which shows that secondary data is not completely accurate and in many places, there is no data available. However, there is more variance between the enrolment figures of children and the actual numbers regularly attending school which only reflects that if children are not in school, they most certainly are found in the mine sites or in other places of work.

Child Labour in the Diamond Mines and Stone Quarries

The people in the villages the study team visited, described how they find that mine labour is unsustainable in several ways because their children are forced to work in the mines. In village Bador, a Gond explained how two of his sons, both below 18 years of age, were forced to work in the stone quarries and diamond mines, as a result of his illness. The man used to work in the mines but had become ill with malaria and TB. Therefore, the boys started working in order to support the family and to purchase medicines.

Most of the boys and girls start working by the age of 10 or 12, with more girls found in every site. They keep shifting from mine site to mine site, wherever the contractors give them work, either in the stone quarries or in the diamond mines. The parents said that as future bread-winners of the families, they have no choice but to learn the work early in life as they do not anticipate any other opportunities for their children, given their situation of poverty.

In Janawar village the elders reported that every child in the village is involved either in mining activities or in domestic chores as the land given by government is not fertile and it has made them impoverished. Officially the rehabilitation project has provided substantial cash compensation, but in reality the displaced families are found everywhere in the mine sites ekeing out a living as daily wage labour. This calls for a review of the process of resettlement and compensation.

Table 2.08: Primary school enrolment data for some villages in Panna district

District / Block / Village / Total enrolment / SC / ST / OBC / Others

Panna / Panna / Jhallar / 21 / 0 / 1 / 20 / --

Panna / Panna / Janawar / 113 / 2 / 18 / 92 / 13

Panna / Panna / Umraban / Data not available / -- / -- / -- / --

Panna / Panna / Gandhigram / 232 / 82 / 23 / 111 / 107

Panna / Panna / Mannor / 73 / 3 / 21 / 38 / 51

Panna / Panna / Hardua / 173 / 25 / 47 / 58 / 75

Panna / Panna / Rakseha / 517 / 18 / 56 / 272 / 24

Others=Repeaters, CWSN and Muslim

Note: Discrepencies in totals exist but the data is as given in the DISE report card

Sources: DISE report card, September 2008

A teenage boy interviewed, stated that he has been working in the mines from the age of 10 and he now gets a daily wage of Rs.70. The stone quarry near Gandhigram village provided evidence of child and adolescent labour. The boys, who were around 17 years of age, explained that they work under a contractor who pays them Rs.35–40 for one piece of stone broken. The boys earn, on an average, Rs.70–100 per day and the material, to their understanding, is sent to the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan and to the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. They reported that working hours vary from contractor to contractor, but on an average, each boy works for 10 hours daily. All the boys interviewed belonged to the Gond tribe and they have been working for a few years now.

Young boys digging for diamonds (Photo August 2009)

Chainsingh Dharampur is an example of the nature of diamond mining taking place in Panna district. It is village of Gonds, close to the diamond mines of many private contractors who explore for diamonds illegally. In a meeting held in the village during the field visit, which was attended by about 19 Gond families, they complained that, on the one hand, government is allotting small areas (25x25 ft) for mining leases to private contractors, and on the other hand, non-adivasi local people were lured by the contractors to give their land informally on lease for diamond mining activities. The contractors pay them around 10 per cent of their profit for this land. Therefore, it is spreading like rathole mining in the whole area with agriculture and forest land being seriously affected. The women complained that earlier they could work as agricultural labourers, but now there is no work. The people here also complained that most of the illegal mining is happening in forest land and that there are at least 5–10 times more illegal mines than legal ones.

According to these Gond families who work in the mines as contract labour, the wages are very low. The men are paid Rs.50–60 per day and the women get Rs.40. They also clearly stated that there are many children working as labour in diamond mining. While most of the women take their infants with them to work, the children start taking part in the mining activities from the age of 10. The women informed that young boys go as deep as 70 ft underground, into the mine pits in search of diamonds, sometimes for 8–10 hours at a stretch. According to villagers of Dharampur there are more than 500 children (age group 10–16 years) working in illegal mining activities in Dharampur and surrounding areas. As children are cheap labour for the contractors, they are hired to work in the mines. The women said that majority of the child labour are also girls who start working from the age of 12–14 to supplement the family wages.

Malnourished and out-of-school, children of mine workers in Panna (Photo August 2009)

In one of the diamond mines visited by us, six children were found working with their families. Four of the children were below 12 years of age and were helping the adults throw the soil away. The parents stated that the children are enrolled in school but they work for half a day in the mines and also attend school in the afternoon. When questioned, the children said that they do not have money to buy notebooks and they fear the wrath of the teacher, so they preferred to accompany their mothers to work.

In Hardua village that is home to 30 Gond families, around 12 families participated in the group discussion we held regarding the diamond mining activities. None of these families have land and all of them are dependent either on mining, which takes place for 4–5 months in a year, and the rest of the year they either sell wood from the forest or migrate to Delhi, Kanpur, Jhansi or Haryana. Here also the people explained that they earn Rs.50–60 per day in the mining activity. Women and children are also working in the mines and earn Rs.30–35 per day. Children are mainly involved in sorting the stones and digging up soil and have to stay for many hours inside the mine pits in order to find diamonds. Children are also working in sandstone mining and their main tasks here are, breaking the stones and loading them into trucks. In this village, we found children who were 8 years old, also working in the diamond mining activity.

The villagers complained that NREGA works are not available for more than 30–35 days in a year and that they are cheated in wage disbursal. Because of this, they have to go out of the villages for work.

Voluntary organisations like PKMS have been fighting for the rights of the displaced adivasi families and against the use of child labour in the mines. They state that the nexus between the law enforcement departments and the mining mafia is very strong and as the communities are too poor they are forced to take their children for work. When the team asked them about the future of their children, they replied that they had no time or luxury to think about the children’s future. They have to survive for today. As an 8 year old boy stated, ‘there is nothing in the school to study, we are here to support our family, holding diamonds in the same frail hands that never held a fistful of food!

Health Problems

Women workers stated that they work in the mines even during the late months of pregnancy as they have no other work available. They expressed that children are born very anaemic and are malnourished. Both women and children looked malnourished when we visited the area. Child marriages are common in this area, which is also an added reason for early motherhood and malnourishment among women and children. We found young mothers, not older than 20, holding one or two children, and they all looked very anaemic. The common health problems that children working in the diamond mines suffer from are respiratory illnesses due to dust inhalation, skin diseases due to standing in the stagnating mine pits for several hours to dig the pits. Diarrhoea and fevers, particularly malaria, is very high among the children here, given that the mine pits are abandoned without any reclamation after the exploration for diamonds and have stagnant water with mosquitoes. These abandoned mine pits also pose risk of accidents especially in the rainy season. Recently, four mine workers were said to have perished in the mine debris while digging for diamonds.

Among adults, TB is a very common occupational health problem among the mine workers. Dr. Tiwari, the Chief Medical Officer of the Panna District Hospital, stated that malnourishment and TB were very high among the mine workers in Panna district. In Hardua village, we were informed by the people that 3–4 people had died of TB. The PHC of Hardua Rakseha, which we visited in August 2009, had no doctors posted here and this was reflected on the notice board of the PHC which did not display the names of any medical personnel. The PHC was merely manned by a paramedic (compounder) who was found distributing the same medicine to all the patients who were present at the hospital during our visit. The people complained that although it is a government hospital and there is no doctor appointed, they are forced to pay for their medicines and treatment.

Water and Sanitation

The women complained that they face severe water problems and the water supplied by NMDC is far from adequate to meet their needs because, out of the four hand pumps given in one village, only one functions. The children, therefore, live in conditions of poor sanitation and hygiene and appeared very unhealthy when we visited the villages. Almost all the children we saw looked anaemic, with distended bellies and pale faces, and appeared undersized for their age. The women said that as they were away at the mine site most of the day and did not have the time or sufficient water, they are unable to bathe their children regularly or keep them clean. Most of the children were defecating around the houses as there are no toilets. The unhealthy condition of the children was a clear indication of the lack of economic support for their families, in spite of the mining boom.

The women and children of Gandhigram have to walk a distance of 4 km to fetch water and as they have a major water shortage, the burden of collecting water is on the girls. People complained of water-borne health problems and stated malaria, TB and inadequate food as the major problems. The team saw 4–5 people suffering from TB here. Malnutrition is very high among the children. There are only two families who own BPL cards although the entire village is eligible. Mannor village too had no drinking water and the youth said that many of them have TB but they suspect it to be silicosis.


Panna, once a rich adivasi belt, is today ravaged by the greed of the diamonds. Panna is a district of tragic development paradoxes. It is one of the districts that figure in the national statistics for the poorest human development indicators. It has some of the lowest levels of literacy in the country and also lowest health indicators. Panna district has the highest number of malnourished children in the country, according to reports. Yet this district exports diamonds to the world from India and the mineral revenues from diamond alone comprise a substantial per cent of the total revenues from mining. As in South Africa, Sierra Leone and other African countries which supply diamonds to the world market and yet have some of the worst indicators of growth, particularly with respect to children, Panna holds a similar story in India. The case study here showed how self-sufficient adivasi farmers who were involved in subsistence farming and could provide food security for their children, have become landless labourers in the stone quarries and diamond mines. This situation also forced their children to end up in the mines instead of attending school. In most of the anganwadis visited, they are either dysfunctional or their purpose of addressing the nutrition and health of infants, is far from being met. Panna is a glaring example that mining, even in the case of a precious stone like diamond, has serious negative impacts on children’s development. Unless there is official acknowledgement of this and a review of the mining processes in this region and a review of the development policies adopted here, especially with respect to displacement of adivasis for the sake of conservation of wildlife, there is little hope for the future of the children.

(Acknowledgements: This case study was done in partnership with PKMS, Panna. We acknowledge all the assistance in field data collection and facilitation of community meetings given by Mr. Yusuf Baig, Secretary of PKMS and his organisation which works for the rights of mine workers and their families in Panna district.)
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Re: India's Childhood in the "Pits": A Report on the Impacts

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State Overview

Chhattisgarh, carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, ranks tenth amongst India’s states in terms of area and has a population of 20,833,803156 (which is 2 per cent of India’s population). The GDP of Chhattisgarh for 2006-07 is estimated at Rs. 59,321 crore and, at constant price, it has recorded a growth of 9.41 per cent over 2005-06, which is comparable with the all India growth of 9.6 per cent.157 Agriculture is the dominant industry in the state, employing around 76 per cent of the total labour for the state.158 The norm is single cropped and rain-fed agriculture, and with paddy as the main kharif crop, in about 80 per cent of the net sown area,159 the central plains of Chhattisgarh are known as the ‘rice bowl’ of central India.

Chhattisgarh is predominantly rural, with only 20.1 per cent of the population residing in urban areas (the national level is around 28 per cent).160 The rate of urbanisation in the state is 17.4 per cent as against the national average of 29 per cent.161

For Chhattisgarh, natural resources are its greatest strength. Some of the key thrust sectors where Chhattisgarh holds advantage over other states are mining, power, cement, iron ore and steel.162 According to the state government, Chhattisgarh is one of the richest states in India in terms of mineral wealth, with 28 major minerals discovered so far, including diamonds. Chhattisgarh is also currently one of the few states in India that has surplus power. The state has huge reserves of coal and hence an enormous potential for coal-based thermal power generation. As per the state government’s official website, Korba is really the ‘Power capital of India’. The state is also the iron and steel hub of the country. The Bhilai Steel Plant of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) produces more than 4 million tonnes of iron and steel per annum. Substantial capacities have been set up in the private sector as well.163

A condusive labour environment, cheap power, sufficient water resources and availability of land at a lower cost make Chhattisgarh a favourable location for industrial investments. The state provides targeted incentives for industrial investment in the form of various subsidies. Other industries with potential growth in Chhattisgarh are the food processing industry, herbal and medicine industry, gems and jewellery industry164.

Chhattisgarh is a Scheduled Area state and has a very large adivasi population. According to the Census 2001, 11.6 per cent of Chhattisgarh’s constitute SCs and 31.8 per cent are STs (the national averages being 16.2 per cent SCs and 8.2 per cent STs). The vast majority of the SC and ST population live in the rural areas of Chhattisgarh and are largely dependent on agriculture as their main source of income.

Despite the abundant resources that Chhattisgarh has been blessed with, the poverty estimates provided by the Planning Commission, Government of India, reveal that the poverty ratio in the state is 40.9 per cent, significantly higher than that of all India (27.5 per cent). In absolute numbers, the population below poverty line in Chhattisgarh ranks third amongst the major states in the country, after Orissa (46.4 per cent) and Bihar (41.4 per cent).165 With only 18.7 per cent of households having access to proper sanitation facilities, Chhattisgarh is ranked the lowest among the major states in India.166

The literacy level in Chhattisgarh, at 65.1 per cent, is slightly lower than the national average of 66 per cent.167 Within the literacy levels, there seems to be quite an extensive gender divide—77.9 per cent of the male population were found to be literate, compared to just 52.3 per cent of the female population. However, the female literacy rate for SCs (at 49.2 percent) and STs (at 39.4 per cent) is even lower.168

Another challenge for Chhattisgarh is the public health sector. As per the Chhatisgarh Human Development Report 2005, health infrastructure in the state needs a considerable upgrade, both in terms of coverage and reach as well as in quality of services provided. The demand for more PHCs as well as sub-health centres (SHCs) and CHCs is mentioned in nearly every district report.169 According to the NFHS-3 data, the reason a majority of the households did not access government facilities was not necessarily due to poor quality of care, but because there were no such facilities nearby.170

The state has a high incidence of TB, malaria, leprosy and jaundice. There is only one TB hospital in Raipur district and two leprosy hospitals in Raipur and Dakshin Bastar, Dantewada district.171 Many district reports in the state speak of poor levels of nutrition, and managing two square meals is an issue for most people. In the village and district reports, people repeatedly say that not having enough to eat is one of the most important issues for them and that the lack of adequate food is one of the biggest causes of ill-health.172

Status of Children

According to the Census 2001, children (age group of 0–14 years) constitute 37 per cent of the total population of the state. However, Chhattisgarh’s number of live births registered (at 384,815)173 is amongst the lowest of the major states in India. The child sex ratio in the 0–6 age group, with 975 girls per 1,000 boys is not only higher than the national average of 927, but the highest amongst India’s states.174 However, this sex ratio has actually gone down from that of 1991 (985), with more boys being registered at birth than girls.

The NFHS-3 estimates the IMR in Chhattisgarh as 70.8 per 1,000 live births and the under five mortality rate as 90.3 per 1,000 (down from 80.9 per 1,000 live births and 122.7 per 1,000 live births respectively in 1998-99). The state does have the highest level of perinatal mortality (64) and its vaccination percentage of 48.7 is only slightly higher than the national level.175 Proper vaccination coverage is crucial to reducing infant and child mortality. Malnutrition for children under 3 years of age remains high in Chhattisgarh, at 52.2 per cent (ranking the state fourth among the major states in India).176

Acute Respiratory Illness (ARI) is a major problem amongst younger children (below 5 years) in the state, followed by diarrhoea. The percentage of children with ARI symptoms who actually received antibiotics was the lowest in Chhattisgarh (1 per cent).177 As per the NFHS-3, the percentage of children in Chhattisgarh who are offered more liquids once diagnosed with diarrhoea (at 3.2 per cent) is also amongst the lowest of India’s states, well below the national average of 10.5 per cent. Majority of these children are given the same amount of fluids as they were before diagnosis. This coupled with ARI and fever, results in high mortality among children. Diseases such as smallpox, polio and plague are also mentioned as illnesses that took a heavy toll of life in the past, but the incidence of such diseases has declined substantially today.178

It is hard to gauge the state’s performance in terms of providing education for its children. The total enrolment for primary education in 2001-02 was 723,180 children, of which 323,500 or 44.7 per cent were girls. In 2002-03, enrolment increased to 820,234 of which 385,315 or 47 per cent were girls.179 The increase in the enrolment of girls has been higher than the enrolment for boys. However, despite encouraging statistics like the above Chhattisgarh’s Educational Development Index180 of 0.521 ranks it amongst the lowest of India’s states. Conflict with the Maoists (extremist groups also known as Naxals) has also severely impacted the education of displaced children as well. According to a Human Right’s Watch report, a survey conducted by a local NGO indicates that around 40 per cent of the children between ages six and 16 residing in camps are not attending school.181 According to the government, there were 169,753 children officially out of school in March 2008.182

According to the Census 2001, 364,572 child labourers work in various sectors in Chhattisgarh. According to the state government’s official website, there are 20,723 child labourers in non-agricultural enterprises in the state (13,836 boys and 6,987 girls)183 The children of Chhattisgarh face an added complication: Residing in a conflict area, as per the Human Rights Watch, all parties to the conflict—the Maoists, statesupported anti-Maoist vigilante groups (known as Salwa Judum) and government security forces—have recruited children in different capacities that expose them to the risk of injury and death.184

Mining in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh is one of the richest states in India in terms of mineral wealth, producing 28 major minerals. According to the Ministry of Mines the value of mineral production in Chhattisgarh increased by 17.5 per cent at Rs.105.1 billion in 2007-08 from the previous year. This has allowed the state to be ranked second in total value of mineral production in India, after Andhra Pradesh.185 The important minerals produced in the state in 2007-08 were coal, bauxite, iron ore, dolomite and limestone, which together accounted for about 99 per cent of the entire value of mineral production in the state.186 Chhattisgarh is the sole producer of tin concentrates in India, accounting for 38 per cent of tin ore resources for the country. The state is the second leading producer of coal and dolomite and iron ore, with a share of 20 per cent, 23 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. Over one-fifth of iron ore in the country is mined here and one of the best quality iron ore deposits in the world is found in the Bailadila mines in the south of the state, from where it is exported to Japan and other countries.187 The state also accounts for about 28 per cent diamond resources of India.188

Coal mining area, Raigarh (Photo November 2009)

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in 2005, the mining sector in Chhattisgarh employed a daily average of 46,200 workers (similar to those employed in 2004).189 Whether the labour employed in mines is entirely local or not is not well known, although indications are that there is substantial migrant labour from outside the state.190

The top five most mined districts are Korba, Koriya, Surguja, Raigarh and Durg.191 With simplified mining laws and quick processing of lease applications being given high priority, Chhattisgarh’s mining policy is quite conducive to private and foreign investment. This has, unfortunately, triggered a violent reaction from the Maoists who have resisted the state’s attempts to acquire and exploit people’s land to serve the multinationals. 192 The state also regularly loses millions of rupees to illegal mining; nearly 1,500 illegal mining cases were detected in Chhattisgarh in 2001 alone. Of these, 587 cases were of illegal mining and 834 of illegal transportation of minerals.193

For this newborn state, mining undoubtedly has enormous economic benefits. But in its overdrive to tap into the huge resources that mining offers, the state government is ignoring the disastrous impacts mining has on the environment and people. Chhattisgarh is facing environmental challenges such as destruction of forests (as per the state’s official website, 44 per cent of the state’s land is under forests, of which 90,000 ha is now under mining of major minerals) and pollution of rivers, which is the main source of irrigation for the inhabitants of those lands, as well as detrimental impacts on land productivity. Some reports have pointed out that illnesses related to breathing and respiration, falling levels of immunity, weakness and ill-health are all outcomes of pollution. In some cases, people have been forced to migrate due the adverse impact of pollution on their health.194

The Mining Curse On the Children of Chhatisgarh

Sunil (name changed) who refused to be photographed is from the village Mudagaon, in Tamnar block. He suffers from skeletal disorder and weakened bones due to the high fluorosis in the drinking water. He is about 18 years of age but he has had a withered body and dysfunctional limbs since the age of 9 years. He cannot walk or sit up straight. He is completely dependent on his family for all his needs. "e villagers reported that there are several children like Sunil who start showing skeletal and dental flourosis from a very early age and by the time they reach their twenties most of them become completely disabled. Education reports from the Block Resource Coordinator (BRC) show that over 120 children are physically and mentally handicapped for various reasons, in Tamnar block.

Source: Interview conducted in Mudagaon village, Raigarh, November 2009

“My name is Rakesh (name changed). I am about 17 years old. I dropped out from school 5 years ago. At present I am doing some part-time work in the mines and the rest of the time I take care of my family’s cattle. We have been compensated by Raipur Alloys which took our land for the coal mines. They paid us Rs 130,000 per acre but most of the compensation money has been spent. The company promised to resettle us, but we are still waiting for rehabilitation. As a manual worker in the mines, I earn Rs. 80–100 per day”.

Source: Interview carried out near open-cast coal mines of Raipur Alloys, near Kosampali village, Raigarh, November 2009

Raigarh district: Key facts

Total population: 1,265,529 (Census 2001)

Population (0–14 years): 140,095 (Census 2001)

Literacy rate: Total 70.16 per cent; Male 82.7 per cent; Female 57.62 per cent (Census 2001)

Percentage of out-of-school children (6–14 years): 3.2 per cent (ASER 2008)

Percentage of children enrolled in AWC or pre-school (3–4 years): 77.7 per cent (ASER 2008)

Number of child labour: 364,572 (Census 2001)

Under five mortality rate (ranking): 443 out of 593 districts surveyed (Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh)

The case study was done in Raigarh district of Chattisgarh, which has extensive mineral deposits of coal, dolomite, iron ore and limestone. The case study was mainly undertaken in the area where the power projects are located which have been creating displacement as well as pollution related problems to the people.

District Profile of Raigarh

Raigarh district in Chhatisgarh is a major producer of steel, with Jindal Steel and Power being the biggest producer. Raigarh consumes about 20,000 tonnes of coal per day. Chattisgarh and Jharkhand states together have almost all the coal deposits in India, which has led to their ‘power hub’ strategy. Raigarh district has an area of 6,836 sq km of which 585.63 sq km is forest area. Gharghoda sub-district where the current case study was conducted has a population of 148,903 of which 83,657 are adivasis.195 The major tribes in this area are Birhor, Hill-Korwah, Kolpa, Rathiya Kamar, Gorh, Kanwar, Uraon and Dhanuhar. The tribes in Raigarh are mainly dependent on agriculture and forest produce, mahua being the principal produce.

The case study was conducted in Tamnar block of Gharghoda sub-district and is one of the most industrialised areas in Raigarh as mining giants such as Jindal, Raipur Alloys and Monnet Ispat have their plants here.

Raigarh has seven sub-districts, and the research covered the villages of Milupara, Khamariya, Gare, Korked, Kosampali, Sarasmal and Mudagaon in Tamnar block. In this block there are three coal and power plants, which are Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Raipur Alloys and Steel Limited, and Monnet Ispat. Monnet Ispat has underground coal mining that extends over 40 acres of land. Jindal Steel and Power Limited as well as Raipur Alloys and Steel Limited, have open-cast coal mining in Tamnar block.

The Backdrop of the Study: The Mining Agitation in Raigarh

At the time of this study (16 November 2009), a major agitation was taking place against the proposed Jindal Power Plant in Gare village. On 5 January 2008, a public hearing was held amidst strong people’s protests as the affected communities were opposed to the project and they had no prior project related information. Inspite of this, the district authorities conducted the public hearing by bringing in people from elsewhere and engineering the proceedings. Police were brought in and people were lathi-charged (beaten) where seven persons were grievously injured and about 200 were partially injured. False cases were booked on the leaders who mobilised the protest; such is the abuse of the Jindals in Chattisgarh and interviews with the community leaders revealed the anger of the people for the manner in which democracy was being suppressed by the mining companies.

Coal filled agricultural land in Tamnar block (Photo November 2009)

There were several flaws and misinformation that was being passed on to the public regarding the proposed project. For instance, according to Mr. Ram Kumar Agrawal, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Raigarh, five villages—Lamdarah, Saraitola, Gare, Khamariya and Karwahi—will be the most affected but the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report only shows five households as likely to be displaced. The core zone, which is the area leased for mining, and the buffer zone, which includes the area around the core extending up to 10 km, has 93.64 ha of forest land, which will be destroyed completely. In the buffer zone, around 30 per cent is forest land, which will be indirectly affected. Also, it is believed that the EIA report does not study the cumulative impact of the various industries present in the region. According to the protestors, they were agitating because there are already, several projects operating in the area like the Jindal’s 1,000 mw power plant, and a number of coal mines that have destroyed the land, livelihood and quality of air, forest, the groundwater and rivers in this region.

The EIA for the proposed project estimates that 13,945 cu m of groundwater, equivalent to 20 per cent of the requirement of Raigarh’s population, will be pumped out each day. However, it underplays this impact on the regional water balance and the affect on agriculture and forest. 195

Local livelihoods destroyed due to mining activities (Photo November 2009)

Another serious issue, as stated by an activist from the Raigarh-based Jan Chetana People’s Movement196, is that mining companies are simply acquiring rich agricultural land on which farmers are dependent for their sustenance, even if they do not do mining. This is the case of Jindal Steel and Power Plant, which got the lease in June 2006 but has not undertaken any mining activities till date. Technically, the lease should be cancelled as per the rules of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, but the Jindals continues to hold control over the land because of its sheer muscle power over the state machinery.

There are several other contentious issues that the local population is angry about, as they are already experiencing severe crisis in water, agriculture and health. Our visits to the villages reflect some of these concerns, particularly in the context of children and why there is a strong mood of protest and violence from the people, given their history of exploitation by the mining companies.

Status of Children’s Education in Tamnar Block

One of the main villages studied was Gare village in Tamnar block. It has a total population of 741 with 150 households of which 400 are below the age of 18. The total ST population is 438 and SC population is 44. The village has two primary schools, one middle school and one anganwadi centre. Table 2.09 gives details of children attending the primary school in Gare village, which is in a poor condition, both in terms of infrastructure as well as in teaching. There are only two teachers and they are new to the school and neither of them are qualified. The Jindals did set up a school but it is far away from the village and too expensive for the local people to send their children. Only the children of employees of Jindals, therefore, attend this school.

Table 2.09: School enrolment data in primary school of Gare village

Class / Total Number / Boys / Girls / SC / ST / OBC / General

I / 11 / 9 / 2 / 2 / 6 / 2 / 1

II / 9 / 6 / 3 / 3 / 6 / -- / --

III / 12 / 6 / 6 / -- / 7 / 4 / 1

IV / 12 / 4 / 8 / 2 / 7 / 2 / 1

V / 11 / 3 / 8 / 1 / 5 / 5 / --

Total / 55 / 28 / 27 / 8 / 31 / 13 / 3

Source: School teacher of the primary school, Gare village

Table 2.10 gives the government elementary education data for Gare village.

Table 2.10: Elementary education in Gare village

District / Block / Village / Total enrolment / SC / ST / OBC / Others

Raigarh / Tamnar / Gare / 109 / 11 / 68 / 26 / 0

Raigarh / Tamnar / Milupara / 385 / 56 / 183 / 133 / 13

Raigarh / Tamnar / Khamhariya / 81 / 14 / 35 / 29 / 0

Raigarh / Tamnar / Kodkel / 127 / 11 / 89 / 27 / 0

Raigarh / Tamnar / Kosampalli / 80 / 1 / 70 / 9 / 7

Raigarh / Tamnar / Sarasmal / 24 / 0 / 20 / 4 / 0

Others=Repeaters, CWSN and Muslim

Note: Discrepencies in totals exist but the data is as given in the DISE report card

Source: DISE report card, September 2008

Anganwadi or godown? A sahayaka manages the anganwadi in Khamhariya village (Photo November 2009)

In Khamhariya village there are 250–300 children below 18 years of age. There is one primary school and one middle school. Although there is an anganwadi, the people reported that only around 10–15 children attend it regularly. This is because the anganwadi centre is dilapidated and people said it was too dangerous for children to sit inside as the roof may collapse any time. When our team visited it, the centre looked like it was being used as a godown to store bags of cement and bricks. On record there are 28 children and four infants less than one year, but on the day of the visit only two children were present. According to the anganwadi worker, there is one child with Grade III malnourishment, eight children in Grade II and 23 in Grade I. There were nine pregnant women and nine lactating mothers in the centre’s list but the anganwadi worker reported that since the last 2 months there was no supplementary nutrition provided to these women. She also stated that since 2 years she has not been supplied any medical kits.

In Khamhariya middle school, as per the school register, there are 52 children enrolled from three villages. This is a very low figure considering that children come from three villages. In Khamhariya itself there are 250–300 children below 18 years of age, which means that majority of the children are out of school in the three villages. There are three government teachers and two temporary teachers paid by the Jindals. The company’s other contribution is to construct a boundary wall for the school. The BRC informed that in Tamnar block there are 162 primary schools, 56 middle schools and 11 high schools. Totally there are 310 teachers but 80 per cent of them are shikshakarmis (temporary teachers) and only 20 per cent are regular government teachers. Table 2.11 gives data on enrolment of children in primary and middle school in Tamnar block.

Table 2.11: Enrolment of children in primary and middle school in Tamnar block

Group Gender / SC / ST / OBC / General

Age group 6–11 years (primary school)

Boys / 639 / 2,859 / 1,616 / 186

Girls / 532 / 2,851 / 1,518 / 161

Total / 1,171 / 5,710 / 3,134 / 347

Age group 11–14 years (middle school)

Boys / 304 / 1322 / 990 / 81

Girls / 255 / 1400 / 910 / 83

Total / 559 / 2,722 / 1,900 / 164

Source: BRC, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Tamnar block

According to the teachers and the BRC there is no drop-out but it was casually mentioned that 120 children do not attend school as they are physically or visually handicapped.

Child Labour

Children affected by fluorosis in Mudagaon village, Tamnar block (Photo November 2009)

Although within the company premises of the large companies there is child labour engaged, the definition of child labour has to be questioned here, because we were informed that many adolescent boys and girls between the age of 15 and 18 work in the peripheral activities related to mining like loading, road construction, as cleaners in trucks and other daily wage labour hired by the local contractors. Besides, very few from the local communities are engaged in mining related work and we were informed that a lot of migrant labour from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar are working in large numbers. The people reported that as migrant labour are less likely to protest or demand, the companies bring labour from outside. This again shows that having been displaced by mining and power projects, local people have also lost their means of any alternate livelihood.

Health Problems of Children and Local Communities Due to Mining Activities

Closed PHC Sub center, Khamhariya (Photo November 2009)

In every village people complained that children suffered from illnesses due to water contamination. Some of the villages like Milupara are close to the mine sites and hence suffer from both water and air pollution. The most common illnesses reported among the children were malaria, diarrhoea, hydrocele, pneumonia, skin ailments, bronchitis, gastroenteritis, abdominal pains, arthritis, jaundice and other respiratory ailments. Hydrocele is reported to have increased in the last 5 years. The villagers observed that water contamination is affecting reproductive health as children are observed to be born either weak or with physical disabilities. The notoriety of mining companies in Chattisgarh, especially the muscle power of the Jindals is well known, so the people are unable to get the authorities to take action on the water contamination due to mining activities.

It was reported that in 1998, an adivasi woman, Satyabhama went on a hunger strike to protest against the water contamanation of Kelo river but she was allowed to die with no action taken by the authorities who feared repercussions from the companies. After more than a decade since this incident, smoke from the plants like the chimneys of Raipur Alloys and Monnet Ispat are causing dust allergies and respiratory problems. The people in Kodkel village also reported that the Bendra Nala contains a layer of toxic waste and is creating health problems like diarrhoea, stomach disorders and fevers. Mine accidents and damages to houses due to blasting operations often occurs, according to local people. Women complained that there were a few instances of sexual abuse and hence they fear for the safety of adolescent girls.

The children’s population catered to by the PHC at Kodkel is given in Table 2.12. The nurse shared information that there is 5 per cent IMR on record, but stated that in reality this was much higher.

Table 2.12: Age-wise distribution of people at Kodkel Public Health Centre

Age group / Male / Female

0–5 years / 181 / 182

6–14 years / 149 / 172

14 and above / 1,082 / 1,126

Total / 1,412 / 1,480

Source: Sub-centre, PHC, Kodkel

The health department personnel at the PHC admitted that there are far more number of patients approaching the centre now than before and this is because of the health problems being created by mining. The women stated that they prefer to have deliveries at home than at the PHC because of the condition of the roads and poor transport. Earlier there were incidents when women delivered on the way to the PHC due to the strenuous journey on these roads. The nurse also mentioned that three out of five women are suffering from anaemia. The health staff reported that fungal infections and hepatitis are on the rise mainly due to infections from polluted water

Malnourished child at Mudagaon village (Photo November 2009)

The Blackened Waters of Kelo River

On discussions with people, one of the most serious problems expressed was the contamination of the Kelo river which is the only source of water for the people. Raigarh district once acclaimed to be the rice bowl of the state, has been degraded due to over-industrialisation and diversion of the innumerable rivers that flow through Chattisgarh, to serve the needs of private industries. Kelo river was the source of irrigation and drinking water to a large area in the state. However, the Jindals and Monnet Ispat mining activities have contaminated the river with mine tailings.

Kelo river in Gare village, life source of an entire region polluted by coal dust (Photo November 2009)

The people in all the villages covered under the study, universally declared that the water of Kelo river cannot be used either for drinking or even for bathing. In the last 3 years, the people have observed how the Kelo river has almost turned black with coal dumping. The people complained that the livestock is also seriously affected due to the water contamination. Besides the depletion of water due to borewells dug up by the companies for their power plants, has affected agriculture in the entire block. For example, in Khamhariya villagers showed the three borewells that have no water as most of the acquifers are affected by coal extraction. The villagers expressed fear that their agricultural lands and cultivation will be further destroyed, going by their experiences since the mining started in this region. Given that malnourishment is significantly high in this region as reflected in the state reports, the critical state of water and agriculture have direct impacts on children whose food security is imminently in danger. The anger of the people is visibly evident in the agitations that are reverberating in the area, in opposition to the new projects being set up by the Jindals and others.


Chattisgarh, a state created in the name of the development of the adivasis, has turned into a state for indiscriminate plunder of mineral resources by mining corporates. Corporate violations and abuse on activists as well as community leaders are known to all, but it is difficult to legally hold them accountable. On the other hand, the corporates have gained notoriety for booking false cases on activists and community leaders who question this destruction and harass them ceaselessly. Poverty of the communities, pollution of the water bodies and air, encroachment of rich agricultural lands for mineral exploitation were glaringly visible but the thin lines between legitimacy and illegitimacy of activities, difficulties that communities have in surmounting legal and technical definitions of proving their health problems that relate to mining allow companies to escape and continue with rampant plunder of the land and destruction of water bodies. The shocking state of children’s education and health due to the abysmal services provided by the state compounded by ill-health due to mining induced pollution and starvation, do not reflect an economy that provides a just and healthy development for the children living in this region. Mining has put in disarray, not only the land and livelihoods, but also the resources and services that have made achievement of MDGs for children in the mining region of Chattisgarh, a far fetched goal. Again Chattisgarh has proved that, mineral ‘rich’ states, with a prolonged history of mining, overlap with some of the poorest human development indicators in this country.

(Acknowledgements: This case study was done in partnership with Jan Chetana Peoples Movement of Raigarh which is working on the human and environment rights violations by mining companies and industries in Chattisgarh. We acknowledge the support and assistance of Mr.Ramesh Agarwal and his team in facilitating the field visits and compilation of primary data.

EIA for Jindal coal mine in Chhattisgarh ignores threats
Sujit Kumar, Source: Down To Earth
Date: 15th Feb 2008

The 4 million tonnes per annum opencast mine project called Gare IV/6 is sited in Tamnar block in highly industrialized Raigarh. During public hearing on January 5, about a hundred tribal people were injured in police lathicharge. People allege that Jindal supporters provoked violence when they raised objections to the EIA report and the hearing that was organized later than the stipulated time and without informing the panchayats, even though Tamnar falls under the Panchayat Extension to the Schedule Areas Act, 1996. People are angry that the hearing continued despite the fact that most of the people gathered for discussion had left after the lathicharge. The same day an FIR was filed in Tamnar police station against unknown people for damaging property at the hearing venue. Interestingly, the complainant was not the state pollution control board, which organized the public hearing, but the company. People have since resorted to road blockades and sit-in protests, demanding that the hearing be quashed.

file:///D:/office/media%20reports/all%20mining%20astes/ Chattisgarh/EIA%20for%20Jindal%20coal%20mine%20in%20 Chhattisgarh%20ignores%20threats%20%20%20News%20%20 %20Down%20To%20Earth%20magazine.htm

Fairy-tale ride for child miner
Friday, June 12, 2009, Shreya Roy Chowdhury
Times News Network

On Friday, June 12—the World Day Against Child Labour— he will address a gathering at the International Labour Conference in Geneva. In a journey that’s especially remarkable for someone so young, Manan has gone from being a child labourer to being a child activist, and has already rescued eight children from exploitation.

Working in the mica mines is ugly, but according to Manan, the residents of his village, Samsahiriya, cling to it tenaciously. Given their large families—his own has ten members—every rupee helps. Kids are put to work to supplement the family income. “More than half the children in our village are engaged in mining mica, and so are their parents. The youngest labourers are six or seven years old,’’ he says. ride_for_child_miner.htm

Clay mines kill: Children pay for illegal mining operations in West Bengal
Salahuddin Saiphy, Source: Down to Earth
Date: 14th March 2009

THERE are about 20 mines, mostly illegal, in Salanpur village in Burdwan district. The district has rich deposits of coal, fire clay and iron ore. One among the 20, a fire clay mine, claimed two young lives on February 8 in the West Bengal village.
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