Everyone wants to get a spotless skin with a little shimmer. But at what cost? All these beauty products contain mica to give them that magical effect of natural shimmer. Mica, which has probably been mined by a child as young as 5 years with his/her life and future on the line.
7 children died in the illegal mines they were working, in the past two months. This is a major child rights issue, considering the fact that India is one of the biggest suppliers of top grade mica in the world and 70% of its supplies come from illegal sources. Most of these mines are located in Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh.
Vasudev Rai Pratap is a resident of Chandwara district of Bihar. His 16 year old son got buried in an illegal mine that collapsed in Jharkhand on June 23rd.
“ I didn’t know how dangerous the work in the mines is. Had I known, I would never have let him go.”
“They say, it took almost a day to dig out his body after the mine collapsed. They cremated him without telling me. I didn’t even see my boy before they set him alight.” said Vasudev Rai Pratap with tears in his eyes upon being asked about his son’s death. Pratap’s family, like other victims’ families, has decided not to report the illegal mining on protected forest lands. In return, he was promised ₹100000, which he is yet to receive.
Indian law forbids children below the age of 18 years from working in mines and other hazardous industries. However many poor families rely on children to boost their home income. This fact was backed up by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan group (BBA). They also said that 1/5th of all workers in India’s mines and quarries are children.
Upon being asked, the spokesperson for India’s Ministry of Mines said, it was the matter of the state governments who are facing mounting pressure from mining industries to legalize the illegal mines. Social activists support these calls claiming, it will help crackdown the flourishing black market of mica, worker exploitation, child abuse, and death.
“The central government has no machinery to inspect the control of mines.” Said the spokesperson Y.S. Kataria.
BBA workers have been trying to stop child labor for a decade now. According to them, 7 deaths in a couple of months is just the tip of the iceberg. They estimate fewer than 10% of such deaths are reported.
“Normally we hear about 10 fatalities on an average in a month. But in June we documented over 20 deaths including two of boys aged 15 years.”
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a government organization, conducted a fact-finding mission in Jharkhand’s Koderma and Giridih in June and found children as young as 8 years working in mines.
“ We didn’t get any reports of children being injured or dying due to mine accidents such as collapses as it is all illegal and not reported openly. But, it may be happening.” Said the head of fact-finding mission of NCPCR, Priyank Kanoongo.
District officials admit child labor is a problem in some mines but say it’s restricted to remote pockets where government services and welfare schemes have failed to reach.
“There are portions where mica mining is going on and where children are involved, and we’re trying to roll out schemes to support families to generate other sources of income such as training in goat breeding, masonry and making pickles.” Said Uma Shankar Singh, DC of Giridih.
A Dutch campaign group SOMO estimates up to 20000 children being involved in mica mining in Bihar and Jharkhand. Poverty has forced these children to work in such dangerous situations, so that they may earn wages as low as ₹300/ day and support their families. And, most Indian officials seem to be doing nothing about it.
Figures from India’s Bureau of Mines show production of about 19k tonnes of mica per annum, but the same report shows an export figure of 128k tonnes. Most of which is exported to China (about 62%), followed by the USA, Netherlands, and France.
Indians, our country’s future is at stake. We need to take some action ASAP and stop the inflow of #BloodMoney.
Source : http://news.trust.org