Skip to main content

European Union told to ask India to "stop" child, forced labour in granite mine units, exporting stone to West, China

By Our Representative
Prajapati, 14, a migrant boy belonging to the Adipathi scheduled tribe (ST), works in a granite quarry in Telangana. Belonging to Thapagada village in Malkangiri district, Odisha, he completed his primary school and dropped out. His father received an "advance" of Rs 2000 from a middleman, and sent Prajapati along with some other boys of his village for work in a granite quarry at Bahupet village in Telangana.
“Many young boys like me from my village are working in granite quarries and factories around Karimnagar town,” Prajapati told a group of researchers, who have authored the report, “The Dark Sites of Granite: Modern slavery, child labour and unsafe work in Indian granite quarries”.
Prepared jointly by the Glocal Research (Hyderabad), India Committee of the Netherlands (Utrecht) and Stop Child Labour (The Hague), the report wants the European Union (EU), its member countries and other governments, importing granite from India, to “oblige” companies to be transparent about their supply chain by performing “a human rights due diligence” in line with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) “forced labour protocol.”
“European member states and the European Commission should raise the issue of child labour and forced labour with the Indian government in order to come to joint solutions for failing implementation of labour rights legislation and UN Guiding Principles”, it insists.
Noting complacency on the part of granite importing companies, the report regrets, only five of the 31 identified buying companies are “member of a business and human rights initiative active in the natural stone sector”, adding, “For all other identified buyers, no information on policies on human rights and/or labour rights were found on their company website.”
“Furthermore”, it laments, “Only five companies and one bank reacted to the request to review the draft chapters of this report and provided additional information about their company policies and measures aiming at addressing human rights violations in their supply chain.”
This is especially important because, the report says, half of the total world exports of granite come from India, making India by far the largest global exporter of the commodity. While China is the biggest importer, around 31%, the report notes, Germany is India’s biggest European export market for granite, followed by Italy, UK Poland and Belgium.
Pointing out that the granite exporting companies in South India are largely concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, and granite is mainly shipped from the port in Chennai, the report, based on a field survey among workers of 22 sample quarries, notes existence of “debt bondage, a form of modern-day slavery”, as “a major issue of concern in granite quarries.”
“Nearly 25% of the workers, most of them from quarries located in Telangana and Karnataka, are recruited by providing loans, which carry interest rates of 24% to 36% per year”, the reports says, adding, “In Telangana about 42% of the local workers and 58% of the migrant workers interviewed reported that they owe large sums of money varying from Rs 10000 to Rs 20000 to quarry owners or contractors and they therefore have been working with the same quarry for more than two years.”
Revealing that “migrants constitute 70% of the workforce in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana”, the report says, migrant workers are preferred over locals as they are considered more obedient, work longer hours, do not switch employers frequently, accept lower than minimum wages, and “are able to work flexible and longer hours as they often have fewer social or familial commitments”.
While noting that child labour in stone quarrying has lately gone done, the report says, its instances were “found in the researched quarries”. 
Thus, “out of the 22 sample quarries, the employment of children below 18 years in core quarry activities is observed in seven quarries.”
“Child labour in waste stone processing is still prevalent”, the report says, adding, “Children below 14 years account for nearly 3% of the workforce in waste stone processing and 5% of the workforce is between 15 and 18 years old.”
Pointing out that “occupational health and safety” are a serious issue of concern in stone quarrying, the report says, “More than 80% of the workers interviewed were of the opinion that health and safety is the most severe issue in granite quarrying and processing.”

Comments

Jagdish Patel said…
Congratulations to the three organizations which worked together to prepare this report. I also congratulate COUNTRERVEWI for bringing this report to the wider community through his blog. Granite contains huge amount of silica. Exposure to silica dust can lead to fatal lung disease SILICOSIS. Unfortunately we do not receive reports of silicosis from among granite workers.
Anonymous said…
Stop child labour**

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.