Anumeha Yadav, Independent Journalist
Despite India being one of the major miners of the world, its poorest of communities engaged in mineral resource extraction remain invisible in official surveys and reports.The census of India categorises mining and quarrying as the same economic activity, equating those employed by in the formal sector mine management staff with low income workers toiling in smaller mines and quarries. That workers who own small plots of land or work on others farms and work in mines and quarries for some months of the year to support the incomes are often listed as “farmers” by enumerators further adds to their invisibilization. This study examines the state of working of and the effects of policies on these marginal quarrying households by focusing on workers in Bijolia, a panchayat samiti and mining center in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district. It is a field-based study based on a qualitative and quantitative survey of 30 workers, in different occupations in mining resource extraction activities as casual workers, as stone cutters, carvers, as mining and construction labour, and transport workers and freight handlers. The survey’s aim was to learn about quarry workers’ lives, why they chose this work, if they saw a choice at all, the terms of work, how they organised themselves to demand better conditions, their work and the links to health and nutrition, and what the workers thought the government should do to improve law and policy regulating this work. Besides the survey questionnaire, the study also included over 60 open-ended interviews with workers, their family members, quarry owners, labour contractors, mining officials, the health department, private local medical practitioners, and representatives of non government organisations in Rajasthan to better understand the work relations, as well as the regulation of work and social policies.
Yadav, Anumeha. 2018. “Bijolia’s Harvest of Stone: Conditions of Work Among Quarrying Labour in Rajasthan.”, Centre for Sustainable Employment Working Paper #13, Azim Premji University, Bangalore.