Close to 50,000 quarry workers are employed in hazardous working conditions in the district, bereft of adequate pay and safety equipment

About 50,000 quarry workers employed in the slab-stone industry are not covered by any protective law. The workers have no fixed wages and are paid as per the number of blocks cut, and the volume of work delivered.

The quarries are concentrated in eight mandals of the district: Kolimigundla, Sanjamala, Owk, Banaganapalli, Dhone, Midtur, Panyam and Kurnool.

The workers are employed to cut stone blocks from the quarry or polish crude rocks into slab stones. Both types of work are categorised as hazardous, and offer little remuneration. Most workers complain of asthma and other respiratory problems after working for a decade.

The factory owners or workers employ crude methods either to scoop out the rocks or cut them into pieces in factories. Around sixty per cent of workers are employed in the polishing units and forty in the quarries.

CITU district secretary K. Ramanjaneyulu said a kind of bonded labour was prevalent in the slab-stone industry in the district, with owners paying up to Rs.50,000 as advance to a family and demanding repayment when they wanted quit. He called for modernisation of the processing methods by employing upgraded tools that reduced the drudgery of the work, as also safety gadgets like masks, gloves and shoes. He urged labour officials to intervene in case of accidents and ensure adequate compensation for the victims.