End Child Labor in Indian Mines and Quarries sign now

Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh [011. 23016857 (Fax) ]
Minister Human Resource Development, Shri Arjun Singh [011.23382365 (Fax)]
Minister of Mines, Shri Sis Ram Ola [011.23383011 (Fax)]

We, the undersigned, demand that the Government of India take specific steps to end child labour in mines and quarries.

June 12th, 2005 is World Day against Child Labour, with this year's focus being on children working in mines and quarries.

We demand that the Government of India take the following steps immediately to get children out of mines and back into safe, nurturing environments:

1. Acknowledge that there is widespread employment and/or bonded labour of children under 14 in mines and quarries.
2. Enforce Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, The Mines Act, 1952, and The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976 by taking criminal action against these employers: both mine owners and contractors and canceling their leases.
3. Empower local governing bodies such as Panchayats to inspect, oversee mining activities in each district and demand public accountability from District Collector vis-а-vis cases of child labour.
4. Implement its own National Child Labour Policies and Programmes and work with local NGOs for rescue and rehabilitation of these children employed in mines
5. Enforce minimum wage regulations to annul economic incentives mine owners mine owners and contractors may have for employing children.

Background Information
According to international and Indian human rights organizations, between 60 and 115 million [1] children form part of the labour force in India (government figures being only 15 million [2, 3]). Of these, an estimated 10 -15 million children are bonded labourers [4] and a few million children are illegally employed in mines and stone quarries [5] across India.

Children aged 4 and up work up to 14 hours a day digging, breaking and loading stones, and other ore processing activities, in toxic and hazardous environments, without safety measures [5]. For example, in granite mines, children are employed for collecting kerosene from mine tailings, handling toxic wastes with their bare hands [5].

These children are under constant threat of accidents, injuries, chronic health disorders. They have little or no recourse to basic amenities like healthcare or education, are extremely vulnerable to trafficking or sexual abuse and have very little means of escape.

Exploitative mine owners and contractors, by employing child labour, blatantly violate the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 - which specifically states that no child under 14 shall be employed in such hazardous occupations.

Disturbingly, the government does not acknowledge the high incidence of child labour in mines and refuses to address this problem [5]. The enforcement machinery has also been totally ineffective [1,6] in cracking down on these mines. Human Rights groups claim that not one active law enforcement committee exists in India today [1].

The Government of India is said to be implementing National Child Labour Programs in 150 districts today. These programs have largely been restricted to suggestions for implementation of non-formal education under Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan. Child Labour continues to be high in all of these districts [7].

The increasing demand of cheap metals, minerals and stones (such as marble, granite etc.), by the domestic and export sectors threatens to increase the number of children employed in mines, unless immediate steps are not taken by the Government and law enforcement officials

It is a shame that the Government of India and the state governments today have failed to protect the rights of the weakest of its citizens its children.

References
1. http://hrw.org/reports/1996/India3.htm
2. http://labour.nic.in/cwl/welcome.html
3. Anti-Slavery International, Children in Bondage: Slaves of the Subcontinent (London: 1991), p. 30.
4. http://www.childright.nl/english/l-ind01.htm
5. http://www.indianet.nl/ourminingchildren.pdf
6. http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/India.htm
7. http://www.childlabour.tn.gov.in/nclp87.htm

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Estelle ToddBy:
Politics and GovernmentIn:
Petition target:
Government of India

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