Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports alleging that a large number of children aged below 14 years are working in illegal coalmines in Jharkhand's Hazaribagh district, the National Human Rights Commission has asked the Jharkhand government to file a report within four weeks.
The report had alleged that the child labourers in these mines come from Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Assam.
'The kin of those, who die in accidents in these mines never get any compensation, as deaths are never recorded. There are no facilities for drinking water and health in the area and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has also not been extended in Hazaribagh district,' NHRC said, quoting the media report.
The Commission said that if the contents of the media reports are true, it raises serious issues of violation of human right of the workers working in the coalmines, including the children employed there.
NHRC said the state government should also furnish how many coalmines-legal or illegal-are functional in Hazaribagh and its adjoining areas, what steps have been taken by the state government against illegal coalmines, what safeguards have been provided to the workers working in legal or illegal mines and whether there is any scheme of the state government which ensures health safety of the workers.
The rights panel also asked what steps have been taken by the state government to prohibit child labour in coalmines. It sought information on 'whether there are sufficient schools in Hazaribagh district and adjoining areas for imparting education to children between the ages of 6 and 14 years. If not, what steps are being taken by the state government in this direction under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.'