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NHRC directive to Karnataka on child labour

Friday 27 May 2005

Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a news item quoting an NGO report, which claimed that lakhs of children worked in mines in Karnataka.

The HAQ-Centre for Children Rights, alleged that children, from the age of five, were employed in the mines at Hospet, Sandur and the Ikal belt in violation of child and labour laws. They were forced to carry out digging, breaking stones, loading, dumping, transporting and processing of iron ore with no safety equipment, fixed wages and working hours. They handled a high-level of toxic wastes and were exposed to mine dust, which was above the permissible level. They were, therefore, susceptible to chronic health problems.

The report said the mine-owner was blatantly violating labour laws by employing children and making them work under exploitative and inhumane conditions.

The school dropout rate in the region was high as the children had been sucked into the labour market.

The NHRC has directed that a copy of the news item, published in a national daily on May 16, be sent to the Chief Secretary, Karnataka, and the Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, New Delhi, to look into the allegations and submit their comments within two weeks.

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