|Children search for iron scrap outside a unit in Giridih. Picture by Shahnawaz Akhtar
Giridih, Jan. 29: Enter Mahtodih, one can see children picking iron scrap dumped as waste from nearby iron and steel units.
Ten years ago, these iron and steel units came up in Mahtodih. Though, with time, the units flourished helping the owners become billionaires, there was no change in the financial condition of these children and their families .
“My father sells waste coal and earns around Rs 50 a day. By picking pieces of iron scrap, I earn around Rs 20 daily to help feed my family,” said Rinku Kumari, 11.
However, these children are not so unfortunate like other child labours in various parts of the state and the country. They manage to attend school in spare time.
Adjacent to the dumping ground of a factory, a private school has come up which especially caters to the needs of the scrap-pickers.
But everyone is not lucky. Even as they hammer out iron scrap, the children look at students clad in uniform attending school.
Rinku used to go to school till Class II, but had to give up on realising that her family could not afford her education.
“My father repairs umbrellas and we are a big family of four brothers and five sisters. So, apart from studying in Class V, I take time out to pick scrap,” said Md Dilawar. At times, these children sustain burn injuries while picking up iron scrap dumped from factories without realising how hot they are.
The fortunes of these children and their families remain in the doldrums, while the fortunes of the owners of the factories have changed forever.
A recent income-tax raid on two companies — Sri Bir Group and Shivam Iron and Steel Company Private Limited — undeclared property worth Rs 15 crore and 11.5 crore, respectively, were unearthed.
The Sri Bir Group is setting up a Rs 300-crore multifarious company in Mahtodih that would run on Chinese technology. The new technology would prevent iron wastage in production of sponge iron and rolling mill units.