Mine Labour protection Campaign (MLPC)

Project Theme

Natural Resource Management

Target Group

Women

Project Period

01 Jul 2014 - 30 Jun 2015

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Introduction

India’s major quarries are spread over the states of Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Almost everywhere they are worked by internal migrant labour forced by poverty, drought, famine, or failed crops to take up this work. In Rajasthan alone, there are 2.5 million mine workers employed in over 30,000 small and large mines, 98% of which are tribals or dalits.

93% of India’s workforce belongs to the informal or unorganized employment sector. The ‘highly distressed’ categories among them are indebted and often become bonded labourers. These debts are passed on to family members and to the next generation, and can even cause a worker to be sold to another contractor. Confirming this trend, a report from the ministry of labour, government of India, states that till March 31, 2004, the number of bonded labourers identified and released are 7488, among which 6331 are rehabilitated. (Feasibility Study for Setting Standards in Natural Stone Sector in Rajasthan; CEC and TdH; 2009)

Women are the most exploited, without health care benefits such as maternity leave; they often return to work a day after childbirth for fear of lost wages. In Rajasthan, the working life of a rural female worker is 24.6 years. The work participation rate (WPR) peaks in the 25-29 years age group. High levels of WPR are recorded among currently married females, illiterate females, scheduled castes (dalit) or scheduled tribes (adivasis or indigenous people). (Rajasthan Development Report; Planning Commission; 2006)

Despite a Supreme Court ruling, contractors have failed to incorporate safety and environmentally friendly standards at the mines. The miners work under subhuman conditions for long hours with an average of six accidental deaths a day whose families never get compensation. Long exposure to dust particles easily reduces a worker’s life expectancy by ten years, and occupational diseases like silicosis and tuberculosis (TB) are common among the labourers.