In and around the illegal, open cast mines of Panna in Madhya Pradesh, some of which fall under the tiger reserve and adjacent forests, people, young and old, harbour the dream of finding a stone that can change their fortunes.

Digging through the sand and mud while their parents work in the diamond mines here are children who mostly belong to the Gond community (listed as Scheduled Tribe in the state).

“If I find a diamond, I can use it for further education,” one of them says.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act ( 2016 ) prohibits the employment of children (below 14 years) and adolescents (below 18 years) in the mining industry, listed as a hazardous occupation in the Act.

Approximately 300 kilometers away, children in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh also accompany their parents to work. In this case,  it is the illegal stone mines. Many of these families, who belong to marginalised communities, live dangerously close to the mines as well.

“My house is behind this mine,” says one of the girls, “there are five blasts a day. [One day] a huge rock fell and cracked all four walls [of the house].”

This film is about the many children working in and around the mines in the unorganised labour force who have little to no access to education.

Watch: Children of the mines

Kavita Carneiro

Kavita Carneiro is an independent filmmaker based out of Pune who has been making social-impact films for the last decade. Her films include a feature-length documentary on rugby players called Zaffar & Tudu and her latest film, Kaleshwaram,  focuses on the world's largest lift irrigation project.

Other stories by Kavita Carneiro
Text Editor : Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Sarbajaya Bhattacharya is a Senior Assistant Editor at PARI. She is an experienced Bangla translator. Based in Kolkata, she is interested in the history of the city and travel literature.

Other stories by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya