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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**

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