Children as young as five years old forced to work in India's coal mines
Strictly illegal coal mining by children is tragic daily routine
no food to eat, and with dependent families, thousands of Indian
children in Jharkhand wake up each day to scratch out a living in the
nation's cola mines. Despite the 1952 Indian Mines Act that forbids that
no one person under the age of 18 can be employed in the mines, many
children do so anyway.
Despite the 1952 Indian Mines Act that forbids that no one person under the age of 18 can be employed in the mines, many children do so anyway.
Schools are scarce in Jharkhand, and education is often seen to be a luxury. "We know that we are gambling with our lives, and our children's lives, every day - but with no poverty alleviation projects or alternate forms of employment reaching this part of the state, we are forced to mine coal for our livelihood," Shanti Tete, a woman working in the mines said.
While Jharkhand is mineral-rich, a majority of its people are dirt poor. In India, 28 million children work to supplement their families' meager income. At least 400,000 children between the ages of five and 14 work in Jharkhand, many in the coal mines.
Fatal cave-ins in these mines are frequently reported, but the local children here have few choices. "I know there is danger in this work, but at the end of the day, it is the money that matters," one child miner said.
Each year, the mines in this area kill around 20 workers including six or seven children. Illegal mining also bleeds the government of revenue. "Because of unauthorized mining, coal companies bear a loss of $20 million per year, and [the] state government suffers a loss of $6.2m every year," Radhe Ramen, the deputy director of the mining department says.
The government has failed to curb the illegal trade and all its attendant evils. "We tried to enroll people in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act work, but people do not want to get involved as they do not see enough money," Santhosh Satpathy of Jharkhand's rural development department says.
As many as "10,000 families might be earning their livelihood by 'rat-hole' mining in the area", he said. "As the area has a history of mining - both legal and illicit - one solution may be to legalize the unlawful mining, and provide workers with sufficient safety training."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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