Most mine workers have reduced life spans, between 45 and 55 years, and children working in the mining industry are likely to burn themselves out by the time they reach 30, a study has revealed.
The study, India’s Childhood in the Pits: Impact of Mining on Children in India, jointly conducted by Delhi-based non-government organisations HAQ: Centre for Child Rights and Samata in partnership with the Alliance of Mines, Minerals and People, is the first such study on mining in India.
Published by the Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children-Samata, Visakhapatnam, and supported by Terre Des Hommes Germany, AEI & ASTM Luxembourg, the report will be made public on March 22. Hindustan Times has a copy of the report.
Although there is no data to show the extent of migration for mining and quarrying work in India, evidence suggests migration is rising and the number of children in mining below 14 years may be close to 9 million.
“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,” the report says. “Regular streams of new migrants leave the tribal belts of Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other states to seek work in the mines.”
“The core focus of the report is the primary data and information gathered from the mine sites and communities affected by mining,” said Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
She said field research was carried out in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to cover a range of mines and minerals being mined in India.
The report says mining operations are politically sensitive and highly politicised, making it difficult to collect information related to children and mining.
“Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are the top three mineral bearing states, but home to India’s poorest people,” the report says.
The fifth schedule areas — 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, the report says.