Poverty forces Takhar children to hard labour

Poverty forces Takhar children to hard labour

TALOQAN (Pajhwok): Somme children involved in placer mining in northern Takhar province said they have to work from dawn to dusk to manage livelihood for their families.

They asked the government to generate job opportunities for them. Zalmai, 14, is one of the children’s involved in placer mining which is a hard work in Taloqan River. After getting permission from his father, he told Pajhwok Afghan News: “I go to school and want to become engineer but my family is economically not sound.” He said most of the time he had to give preference to work and could not go to school, he come to the river and work alongside his father to generate livelihood for themselves.

He said: “All the day I have to work and after the evening prayer I go back to home with my father.” He added working at a small age was difficult for him but added he had to work alongside his father, some days he earns 100 to 200 and sometimes they return home empty hands. They have a six-member family who wait at the end of the day for their father and brother who will come and bring something to cherish.

The small and drowning arms in the water and rocks of the Taloqan River reflected upon the deprivation of children who now instead of learning lessons and education, bear the burden of their families and with their new strength and arms, they try from morning to evening to provide a piece of bread for their families. Habib, 12, is another child who also involved in placer mining in the Taloqan River due to economic problems. He told Pajhwok Afghan News: “Only I have to work to earn livelihood for my family, there is no one who can work, I can’t earn good money because I am not familiar with this work.” He said during these hot days, he has to work from 5:00am to 5:00pm with shovel and pickaxe in the rocks but at the end of the day he gets 100 afs to 150 afs.

Habib also asked government to pay attention towards job generation for the people. Among these children, there are also old men whose bent body structure had become even bent by the fate of the times and they are trying to earn alimony for their families among the broken stones. Mohammad Akram, who work along his two sons, said long distance to the school, lack of resources and most importantly the worst economic condition resulted that two of my sons deprived from education and engaged in hard labour.

Referring to the inking of Taloqan River gold mining contract with foreign companies he said, poor people earn their livelihood from this source and government should spare some part of the river for the people where they could work. Meanwhile, Asadullah Taimour, a social affairs expert, said illegal mining by local people and some company in the Taloqan River’s Khayatan area where the Takhar-Badakhshan Road also connects caused danger for the road and agriculture lands. He said the main road is now about 10 metres away from the river and if placer mining is not stopped the road and agriculture lands could be damaged in the future due to the flood. Takhar Mining Department Head Mawlavi Abdul Nasir Haqqani, said the gold mine is situated in the Samti area of Cha Ab district which had been granted on contract. In addition, he said some gold sources are also existed in the Khayatan and Tela Pashan areas where around 70 miners are involved in gold mining and they have government licenses.

He assured efforts were underway to stop illegal and unprofessional mining. Mawlavi Haqqani said, the damage that can be seen now on the Takhar-Badakhshan public road was from the time when illegal companies started digging arbitrarily, now government monitored everything to avoid harm to the roads and agricultural lands of the people.

Some residents of Takhar in some districts and the provincial capital Taloqan are engaged in gold mining due to economic problems, sometimes they go down to the depth of hundreds of meters underground through unprofessional digging. In the past one year around 30 miners died as a result of unprofessional digging.