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Issue 24
, 2010
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Childhood in pits, says report on Indian mining

Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, Date: , 2010

Painting a frightening picture of the extent of violation of children's rights in the mining areas across the country, HAQ, a child rights organisation, has said that the government must recognise that children are impacted by mining.“The impacts must be considered and addressed at all stages of mining cycles and this concern must find reflection in the present governance structure,” said non-governmental organisations HAQ, Samata, and Mines, Minerals and People in their latest ‘Report on the impacts of mining on children' titled “India's Childhood in Pits.”Malnourished, denied access to education, and living and working in dangerous conditions, India's “mining children” are leading horrendous lives. Previously unexplored, and therefore inevitably neglected, the links between children and mining have not yet been taken seriously by policy-makers or activists, it says. Census 2001 reported there were 45,135 children between 5-14 years working in the mining sector, accounting for nearly 7 per cent of working children in India. Child labour figures are only disaggregated in the census up to 14 years. However, figures reveal that many in the 15-19-year group work in this sector — 161,585 according to the Census. The report points out that the figures provided by the Census grossly underestimate the scale of the problem. Organisations working on mining in Rajasthan estimate that around 3,75,000 children work in the mines and quarries across that State alone. In Karnataka, estimates suggest that there are at least a few lakh children engaged in mining. It also calls for addressing the glaring loopholes in the law, policy and implementation related to mining in general, and private and small scale mining in particular that are related to children.