By Neera Burra
d. Children working in mines and quarries
The working of children in mines and quarries is banned. However, the incidence of child labour, whether as part of family labour or as individuals recruited for work continues regardless. Stone quarrying is one of the biggest sectors attracting migrant labour. According to Santulan, a Pune-based NGO, there are 4-5 million workers in this sector in Maharashtra alone of which 800,000-10,00,000 are likely to be children.
Arindam Roy writes about the Kol tribes of Shankargarh, a block just 50 kms from Allahabad where he says almost every person in the area is a bonded labourer, forced to work for silica sand mining sub-lessees. The major occupation in the area is mining of silica. The rate is Rs. 150 per tractor load. Two persons can be expected to mine and load a tractor in 3 or 4 days.
According to Roy, “The slavery of kols is complete. Their children, eight years upwards are not spared either. When children are not breaking the stones, they are made to carry headloads (‘taslas’) to the waiting trucks or tractors. For each head load, they are given a pebble (‘kauri’). They are paid Rupee 1 for carrying 40 head loads, at the rate of 2.5 paisa per head load. After running endlessly, carrying some 400 head loads, these little children are paid about Rs. 10”
(Matter quoted from: Roy, Arindam (2000) “Breaking the Shackles. Kol Tribal Labourers”, Economic and Political Weekly,February 5-11, Vol. XXXV, No. 6, pp.425-426.)
NOTE: Neera Burra is a Sociologist and works on the issue of child labour and poverty. This report draws extensively from her earlier research work.