Author: Jatindra Dash, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Bhubaneswar (Thomson Reuters Foundation)-After an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year found the deaths of children working in illegal mines, a senior government official said on Thursday that the authorities in eastern India have begun to remove Legalization of mica mining.
A three-month survey in the mica-producing state of Jharkhand in August found that in just two months, at least seven children were killed in illegal mines because they selected and classified precious minerals. These minerals add luster to cosmetics and car paint.
However, because the families of the victims and mine operators worry that this may end the illegal mining of mica, which is an important source of income in some of the poorest areas in India, the death toll has not been reported.
Children’s rights experts say that legalizing mica mining will allow the industry to be regulated, eradicate child labor, and ensure that miners receive better wages and conditions.
Jharkhand Mining Commissioner Aboobacker Siddique stated that the authorities first plan to sell waste mica piles, and then will focus on auctioning old mica mines and other mining reserves. Many children and their parents collect minerals in garbage dumps and old mines.
"We have issued a tender notice for the auction of mica piles on Wednesday. These are the scrap yards of old mica mines, called'dhibra', which are low-quality mica flakes," Siddiq spoke by phone in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Say.
"People are collecting these wastes illegally and accumulating and selling them. To prevent this, we decided to sell mica waste dumps through auctions."
India is one of the world's largest producers of mica. Mica is a silver crystalline mineral that has attracted much attention as an environmentally friendly material in the automotive and construction industries, electronic products and "natural" cosmetics in recent years.
The industry that once owned more than 700 legal mines was hit by legislation restricting deforestation and the invention of synthetic mica in 1980, forcing most mines to close.
But the renewed interest in mica allowed illegal operators to rush into hundreds of closed, crumbling mines, many of which are located in the forests of the Koderma and Giridih regions of Jharkhand.
Indian law prohibits children under the age of 18 from working in mines and other dangerous industries, but many families living in extreme poverty rely on children to increase their family income.
Following an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in August, the Ministry of Labor of Jharkhand announced an investigation.
The findings submitted earlier this month indicated that illegal mining of mica was the main source of income for locals and confirmed that some workers had died as a result of the collapse of the mine. However, it found no evidence of child deaths.
However, labor officials stated that they had launched a statewide public awareness campaign to stop the use of child labor and saved about 250 children working in small shops and restaurants.
Siddiq said that about 100 mica piles have been identified for auction. Once these are sold, new reserves of "ghost" mines and mica will be auctioned. He did not specify the time frame.
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