Child Labor in Indian Coal Mines

May 19, 2011 6 comments

Times photojournalist Daniel Berehulak, along with Mark Magnier, reported a fantastic photo essay on the mining situation in the Jaintia Hills district of India, located in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Perhaps as many as thousands of underage workers as young as 8, lured by the wages, leave school to work in coal mines under perilous conditions. The country officially upholds mining safety standards and forbids child labor, but loopholes in state laws allow widespread abuses. The young miners descend on rickety ladders made of branches into the makeshift coal mines, scrambling sideways into “rat hole” shafts so small that even kneeling becomes impossible. Lying horizontally, they hack away with picks and their bare hands: Human labor here is far cheaper than machines.


Ladrymbai, India — Shyam Rai, 22, from Nepal makes his way through a "rat hole" tunnel inside a coal mine.


Ladrymbai, India — A boy works at a coal depot near Ladrymbai, in the Jaintia Hills district of northeastern India


Khliehriat, India — Prabhat Sinha, 38, carries a load of coal as he ascends a staircase near the village of Khliehriat.


Ladrymbai, India — A crane lifts miners out of a 300-foot-deep mine shaft.


Ladrymbai, India — The wages offered for mining coal lures many children to leave school and work.


Ladrymbai, India — A boy carries coal to be crushed as he works at a coal depot.


Ladrymbai, India — Workers cross a bridge to load coal onto a truck.


Ladrymbai, India — Chhai Lyngdoh, 14, makes about $5 a day emptying coal from a 5,000-pound hopper.


Ladrymbai, India — Twelve-year-old Abdul Kayum carries coal to be crushed.


Ladrymbai, India — A miner makes his way through a tunnel.


Ladrymbai, India — Anil Basnet, 20, left, pushes a coal cart as he and a fellow worker haul coal from a tunnel.


Ladrymbai, India — Anil Basnet, 20, left, pushes a coal cart as he and a fellow worker haul coal from a tunnel.


Ladrymbai, India — A crane lifts miners out of the shaft of a coal mine as workers break for lunch.


Jaintia Hills, India — A young boy named Fight, believed to be 8 years old, shovels coal at a depot. Local schools in the area, providing free tuition, find it difficult to convince parents of the benefits of education, as children are seen as sources of income.


Khliehriat, India — Prabhat Sinha, 38, unloads coal that he carried from inside of a mine shaft.


Ladrymbai, India — Workers load coal onto trucks at a coal depot.


Ladrymbai, India — A worker carries a load of coal before throwing it into a crusher at a coal depot.


Ladrymbai, India — A miner unloads tools after being hoisted 300 feet from the depths of a coal mine for his lunch break.


Ladrymbai, India — Miners wash as they break for lunch.


Ladrymbai, India — A miner calls to the crane operator, sitting 300 feet above, to hoist them out of a coal mine for their lunch break.


Ladrymbai, India — Children walk through a coal depot on their way home from school.


Ladrymbai, India — Workers make their way home after a shift in the mines.


Ladrymbai, India — Inebriated young workers loiter near a coal depot.


Ladrymbai, India — Kala Rai, 13, attends an English grammar class at the Biateraim Presbyterian Church school. She worked in the mines for six months but was able to to return to school.


Ladrymbai, India — Coal trucks pass through the town.


Ladrymbai, India — Coal trucks and other vehicles move through town after being delayed by a traffic accident.


Ladrymbai, India — A boy peers into a store as a worker loads coal onto a truck at a coal depot.


Ladrymbai, India — People gather in a market to gamble on a dice game.


  1. Thank you for sharing these images. Faces of poverty, helplessness aqnd survivla..

    Amrita from India

  2. My next door neighbor here in the USA is from India. He has a nice apartment, a nice car, and works at a software job at a very good company. He could have been one of those kids in the mine, but he chose India's excellent school system and studied hard.

  3. Really very tough job. Child labor is crime government should take hard step against it.

  4. these images are very disturbing . Its terrible to see that in the twenty first century , child labour still exists . The Indian government need to step up to the mark before its too late

  5. You people must been children yourselves as you sound extremely immature. And considering that most Americans can't even spell their own language (I find myself correcting 99% of people and it's my 4th language!!!), what did YOU learn in school? (since you don't seem too sophisticated either, I should probably specify that I do disagree w child labor. I'm just amazed at the simplicity of your thinking...)

    1. Yes, Americans are enslaved, too, by their electronic devices and horrible education. Globalists are abusing everyone, one way or another.


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