India’s child slaves building the Games

India’s child slaves building the Games

By JESSICA HALLORAN in New Delhi From:

The Sunday Telegraph August 15, 2010 12:00AM

INDIA’S $3 billion Commonwealth Games is being built by children working for as little as $3 a day.

Human rights groups have accused organisers of reneging on promises to look after workers and criticised the use of child labour and shocking working conditions.

Originally the Indian Government was to allocate $8 million for the welfare of labourers, including adequate housing, in Delhi during the Games, but a recent report stated only $5000 of that budget had been spent.

India Commonwealth Games

Under construction ... Laborers work at a Commonwealth Games site in New Delhi. Source: AP

He said he came from Rajasthan for this work and is paid 150 rupees ($3.55) per day for a 12-hour shift.

“It’s hard work and it’s heavy on the body,” Sri says.

Many parents are forced to bring their children to the work sites. Kamal Singh, 23, worries that his children will follow him. “The kids don’t go to school,” Mr Singh said.

“They will imitate me working rather than go to school.”

Last Monday, tragedy struck the Games preparations when a two-year-old, Varsha, was killed inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex.

Her father Hari and mother Jayanti were working nearby when a truck ran over their young daughter.

Forty-two workers have died during the construction process of the Games.

According to the law, 10 per cent of the total cost of any construction project should include housing for labourers.

Workers say they don’t get their minimum wages and their living conditions are shameful.

Many live under tarpaulins and sleep on the dirt near the major Games sites.

“There’s no housing help,” Mr Singh said. “There’s only this.” He pointed to the line of tents next to the busy road by the Siri Fort sports complex.

Human-rights activists have labelled living conditions “subhuman”. At a Human Rights conference in Delhi last week, headed by the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari, experts met to highlight “unreported violations of human rights being perpetuated by different government agencies in the run up to the Games”.

A demand was made to call off the event, which Mr Kothari said “has brought displacement and suffering for thousands of poor people in the city and allegations of corruption”.

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