Guwahati: Coal smuggling and illegal mining have been a major issue for the region but another issue related to coal has now been reported.
It has been alleged that coal thieves have been engaging school dropouts in transporting coal from certain mining sites (most illegal) in Tinsukia’s Margherita.
With reports doing rounds, sources said that the child labourers used by the circle belong to the Adivasi and other minority communities.
Most of them had left school after Class VIII are under the age of 14.
These children are being “deployed” in Tirap, Tikak, Ledo No 6 line, Paharpur and Baragolai coal mining areas.
They are also given a “lump-sum salary” for their part in the process.
Sources claimed that the thieves involve these children in carrying the coal bags stolen from mining sites.
As per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, no child below the age of 14 can work at any business establishment and other workshops.
Several reports suggest that coal to the tune of at least Rs 100 crore has been stolen from various coalfields in Patkai.
The coal was stolen despite intensified security measures adopted by Coal India Ltd.
Some reports even alleged that the security agencies engaged by Coal India play a part in the nexus with the coal thieves.
The security agencies are allegedly said to be allowing illegal activity in exchange for “huge sums” of money.