The controversy surrounding the suspension of IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal over her strong action against illegal sand mining garnered substantial political opinions. However, even as the focus fades off the topic there is hardly a murmur about the lives of those who genuinely depend upon sand and silica mining in Uttar Pradesh.
In this picture, a family of Kol tribals breaks silica stones in the Shankargarh area of Allahabad’s Trans-Yamuna region. Due to the rocky terrain, which is unfit for cultivation, the once bonded labourers are even today restricted to breaking stones for a living. They toil for hours daily to complete ‘assignments’ given to them by the landed and powerful class.
Over years, this has made them vulnerable to silicosis, a disease caused by excessive exposure to silica dust. But with low levels of literacy, this is their only means of a stable livelihood.