Mining is known to cause widespread social, cultural, environmental upheaval, yet its impact on children is overlooked

A note on Gujarat-level consultation on Children in Mining Areas, District Mineral Fund (DMF), and Pandhayats (Extension in Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA):  
One Day State Level Consultation was organized by Samata with the collaboration of SETU: Centre for Social knowledge And Action, Ahmedabad, Adivasi Ekata Parishad and Mandvi Taluka Sarpanch Association with a special focus on children in mining areas, DMF and PESA on 11th June 2017 at JFM Community Hall, Mandvi, Surat district, Gujarat. 
A total of 133 people participated in the meeting. Sarpanches from more than 15 villages, ex- Ministers, teachers, doctors, advocates, media persons, and community leaders participated in the meeting.
The consultation was presided over by secretary-general of mines, minerals and People (mm&P) Ashok Shrimali. He introduced the theme of the consultation and why children's rights should not be neglected especially in the mining areas. Shrimali said that mining has been known to cause widespread social, cultural and environmental upheavals. But, one crucial section of the society that is largely overlooked while considering the impacts are children. 
The plight of children in mining areas has not received as much attention as it demands. This could partially be attributed to lack of awareness of the affected communities who often are consumed in the process of meeting their ends meet. In many cases its apathy of the main stream society pushing the marginalized communities further towards oblivion. 
This lack of interest in one's own well being and that of the family is also a major concern which in majority of the cases could be attributed to lack of awareness and support (legal or paralegal) in asserting their rights as per the constitution.
Amarsinhbhai Chaudhari, ex-MP. and mm&P adviser from Adivasi Ekta Parishad, spoke about mm&P, the consequences of mining on the adivasis, especially women and children. He also criticized the mining companies which illegally occupy scheduled areas and deny the rights of the adivasis.
A short documentary,"Falling through the cracks - Children and Mining", was screened, followed by a detailed session on the plight of children in mining areas by Ashok Shrimali of mm&P. Participatory approach was followed in sensitizing the people on violation of child rights in the context of children in mining areas.
Ramanbhai Chaudhari, ex-tribal affairs minister of state, Gujarat, emphasized on communities' command over natural resources. He spoke about opencast Tadkeshwar lignite mines in Mandvi, Mangrol, illegal sand mining on various riverbeds of Gujarat, especially Tapi river of Surat, even as mentioning the consequences on children and women, especially their health and education. He spoke about how people were being forced to migrate to Surat and Ankleshwar.
Dr Shantikar Vasava from Adivasi Ekta Parishad and Chanabhai Vasava, President of the Sarpanch Association, Mandvi taluka, spoke about the Samata Judgment, Schedule V & Schedule VI of the Constitution and PESA.Amrutbhai Chaudhari, Vice President of the Sarpanch Association of Mandvi taluka, also spoke about PESA and mm&P alliance.
Jagatsinghbhai Vasava, former chief secretary of Assam, present on the occasion, compared the Provisions of Schedule V and Schedule VI of the Constitution, spoke about PESA and the role of Gram Sabhas, negligence of the Gujarat government in implementing PESA, and the Samata Judgment.
Ashok Chaudhari from Adivasi Ekta Parishad and former executive committee member of mm&P spoke about the need to implement village self rule, constitutional debate around it, election of sarpanch in the context of PESA and the role of gram sabha,
Chaudhari also spoke about the ill effects of mining on the whole community, which especially made children and women the most vulnerable, affecting their health, education, finances and family. He highlighted that without free and prior consent of villagers, not a single development project should clear by authorities.
Chaudhary also said thta due to development projects like mining, nuclear power plants, coal based power projects and reservoirs, a  number of families are displaced in Surat, Tapi, Narmada and Bharuch districts.

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