NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in Jharkhand will crack down on “mica mafia” by starting to legalise some mica mines, a senior government official said, after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed the cover-up of child deaths in illegal mining.
A three-month investigation in the mica-producing state of Jharkhand found that a flourishing black market had resulted in at least seven children being killed since June, mining for the prized mineral which adds the sparkle to make-up and car paint.
But the deaths went unreported as victims’ families and mine operators feared it could end the illegal mining of mica, the only source of income in some of India’s poorest regions.
Jharkhand’s Secretary for Mines Sunil Kumar Barnwal said he was aware of child labour in mica but was taken aback by the number of children dying in the illegal mines estimated to produce 70 percent of India’s annual mica output.
He vowed to legalise some mines from early 2017 and take a zero-tolerance approach to local mica mafias – a nexus of businessmen, traders, politicians, police and forest guards – who have profited in the illegal trade by exploiting the poor.
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