Schoolboys employed in sand mining

Sathish Kumar, who died during mining sand, was said to be an obedient student   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

Poverty and proximity to riverbeds have been weaning away a number of children studying in government schools and pushing them into sand mining. The sand mafia, in a bid to find cheap labour, has been using schoolchildren to lift sand from the riverbeds. The unsuspecting youngsters fall prey to the designs of the mafia, tempted by the money on offer.

The death of Sathish Kumar, a Plus-Two student of the Government Higher Secondary School in Korkadu in the course of sand mining in the bed of the Sankarabarani river, has brought to light the practice of the mafia employing schoolboys.

Sathish Kumar was lifting sand along with three others from Uthiravaginipet on Thursday when the earth caved in. While the others escaped, Satish Kumar could not.

Economic compulsions

According to a teacher of a government school in Villianur, “a number of children from government schools in Villianur and Kanuvapet in the age group of 14 to 17 have been used by the mafia to lift sand from the riverbeds to make easy money and meet their personal expenses. These children from poor families are lured by wages ranging from ₹200 to ₹300 a day,” she said. The children accept work to meet the economic requirements of their parents or for pocket money. This practice has been going on for long.

A teacher at the Korkadu Government Higher Secondary School, where Sathish Kumar studied Commerce stream in Plus Two, said: “He was an obedient student. Although he was average in studies, he was punctual in his attendance. We came to know about his death when he didn't come to collect the hall ticket a few days ago.” Teachers in Korkadu GHSS said this was a one-off incident in the school and the victim could have been persuaded by his friends at Thattanchavady near Villianur.

Thattanchavady and Kanuvapet are in close proximity to riverbeds and a good number of children from government schools in these areas are involved in lifting sand to make money.

A senior official of the Education Department conceded that a number of children from government schools in rural areas were engaged in lifting sand. But most of them have been resorting to the practice after school hours and during weekends. The department has no control over them, he said.

Most children involved in the illegal practice were keen to buy the latest gadgets while a few resort to meet their family expenses. The attendance of these students had been irregular. This calls for an imperative system for surveillance of students besides counselling of already who have got into the network.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 3:09:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/schoolboys-employed-in-sand-mining/article22912454.ece

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