MAC: Mines and Communities

Lakhs of children employed in State mines, says report

Published by MAC on 2005-05-16

Lakhs of children employed in State mines, says report

Aarti Dhar, National Newspaper

16 May 2005

Centre urged to conduct probe and come up with report on child labour

Child India's Labout mines inNEW DELHI: Several lakh children are working in the mines at Hospet, Sandur and Ilkal belt of Karnataka in violation of child and labour laws. A large number of children, starting from the age of five, working in the most hazardous conditions are leading a horrible existence, HAQ - Centre for Child Rights - has said in its report, "Our Mining Children."

It has demanded that the Centre should immediately conduct an enquiry in all mining areas and come up with a country report on child labour. Though it is difficult to accurately estimate the number of children working, it can be said that at least a few lakh children are illegally forced into mining activities. Children are used for digging, breaking stones, loading, dumping, transporting and processing of iron ore with no safety equipment, wages or working hours, the report points out.

Prepared by the Mines, Minerals and People, Campaign Against Child Trafficking and M.V. Foundation along with several other organisations, the report has demanded that the Centre and the Karnataka Government accept the prevalence of child labour and enquire into the magnitude of exploitation of children. Legal action should be taken against miners and their mining leases cancelled for employing child workers. The organisations have suggested that local bodies such as gram panchayats or gram sabhas must be given the power and mandate for monitoring the child labour situations in their jurisdiction. The report blames the shift to privatisation and open market economy after the new economic policies that led to pushing women and children into informal labour, as the foremost reason for child labour. In the mining sector, deregulation of laws for attracting foreign direct investment and private investment have led to mechanisation and retrenchment of workers and have diluted legal protection towards labourers and the marginalised section.

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