From Our Correspondent
JOWAI: Hundreds of children are still engaged in several kinds of works in Jaintia hills district, particularly in the mineral rich Khliehriat Civil Sub-Division.
Local boys and girls, along with children from outside states including Nepal and Bangladesh, have been working in coal and stone grinding enterprises in order to sustain their livelihood. Under aged boys engaged in hotels, shops, etc are paid a meager salary of Rs. 800.00 to Rs. 15000 per month where as those assigned for loading get Rs. 600 per day.
Stone grinding is one of the hardest jobs and the young boys have to spend the entire day amidst dust emitted from the grinding machines, which badly affect their health.
Nepalis, the first people who had come to Jaintia Hills district to extract coal, have been engaging their children in the coal mines as early as 12 years old.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, a 15-year-old K Rymbai said he had to quit school and do such a grinding job in order to support his family.
“My father left us and my mother sent me to sell Kwai everyday in this area. One day a businessman called me and offered me to work in this coal depot and so I started the work”, he said while narrating his story.
A job to separate stones from coal is not that profitable loading is bring more profit to them as they could easily earn more than Rs. 600 a day.
“I had just started the loading job. It is for three month now I have join the group of loading party and I found that it brings me more profit”, Rymbai said
Also, a boy from Kamringanj working in a pan shop said that he earns Rs 1500 a month.. “I came to Ladrymbai two years ago as my uncle had called me and also helped me to get a job.”, he added.
Recently, the Joint Action Committee Coal Miners and Welfare Association issued a public notice asking the coal businessmen in the area not to recruit any under-aged boys and girls.