(14th September to 21st September 2009)

By Sachin S. Bhagat

While travelling we see the hills and mountains with covering of trees and water fall, which looks so beautiful and attractive, but in between we also see partially cut apart of hills. At that time we can’t understated what is actually reason of that, but when we go to closer and closer to that mountain then we realize that it is stone quarry, which engage with cutting the hill.

Mining business is a one of the developing sector of India, it’s growing at larger level, and it provides hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs to the skilled as well as unskilled workers. The stone quarries are one of the parts of mining business.

According to Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), India is one of the top ten nations in reservation of minerals and resources. Its produces more than 80 different mineral commodities and It’s largely reserves of barite, bauxite, chromite’s, coal, iron ore and manganese ore. In 2007 mining contribute the 4.4% growth of India economic.1

“Owing to the country’s healthy economic growth, the demand for metals and minerals in India and in other developing countries has led to a steady growth in the country’s mineral industry and been a vital part of the industrial production. Greater investment in exploration and mineral production also increased the productivity and efficiency of the mining and processing operations. The value of mineral output was $25.3 billion in fiscal year 2007-08 and accounted for 3% of the gross domestic product. The values of mineral imports and exports were $77.5 billion and $20.6 billion, respectively, in 2006-07 and accounted for 34% and 14% of the values of total imports and exports, respectively” (Ministry of Mines, 2007).

The minerals are basically divided in two parts, first is major mineral resources which includes bauxite, coal, mica, gold, manganese ore, chromite’s, iron ore etc.. and second is minor minerals which includes Stone, Sand, Murum, different kinds of marbles and etc..


Mining is a process of extraction or removal of minerals and metals from earth. Our earth is rich with different minerals and metals like Bauxite, Gold, Diamonds and Coal etc. The mining is now money making business and involves larger profits. There are many private, governmental and multinational companies are involved to produce more and more minerals and profits from them. Mining is an integral part of our industry and resources.

There are different types of placer mining which include sluicing, dredging, and panning.

1) Sluicing the placer gravel is shovelled into a sluice box which sits on an incline. The sluice box has a mix of traps and riffles that catch the material as it passes through. Water is fed into the sluice and the riffles trap the heavy minerals.

2) Sluicing allows the capturing of very fine gold particles as does panning. Panning is a method used by hobbyists and personal miners using a gold pan. The pan is moved in a circular motion which removes waste material leaving the gold particles trapped in the ridges.

3) Larger placer operations use large tools for excavation including bucket wheel excavators, powers shovels, drag-lines, and conveyors. Dredges are large pieces of equipment that devour tons of earth quickly in search of the gold.

4) Dredges to be effective, a lot of money is initially spent for prospecting and testing the ground to determine the location and size of the gold. Usually companies will use extensive drilling programs to determine where the largest accumulations of gold are. Dredges are capable of being used to great depths, however if the gold is less than 2 feet deep they are often not effective because the gravel doesn’t stay in the buckets long enough to reach the hopper.

5) Hydraulic mining uses high pressure water which sprays an area of rock. The pressure of the water helps to break the rock up and dislodge any placer or ore deposits. The mix is then milled. Hydraulic mining is used infrequently these days because it is very destructive so it has been outlawed in most places.

6) Open pit mining involves digging really big holes in the ground and is often used for minerals like copper or coal. The size of these mines is absolutely devastating to the surrounding area. To expose the ore it is necessary to excavate and move huge quantities of waste rock. Companies attempt to do this for the lowest price possible to help maximize their profits.

7) Hard rock mining involves digging into solid rock to find the minerals which are normally in their ore  form. Dynamite, picks, shovels, drills, and a host of other equipment is used to reach the ore. Often mine shafts are dug that are made up of miles and miles of tunnels which follow the veins of the ore. (http://www.articleclick.com/Articale/Types-Of-Mining-Operation/3242)

The process of mining produces so much pollution of water, air and soil. Large scale mining operation use huge bulldozers and excavators to extract the metals and minerals from the soil. In order to amalgamate (cluster) the extractions, they use chemicals such as cyanide, mercury, or methyl mercury.  These chemicals go through tailings (pipes) and are often discharged into rivers, streams, bays, and oceans. The people who are exposed to the toxic waste from the tailings become sick.  They develop skin rashes, headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.. In fact, the symptoms of mercury poisoning are very similar to the symptoms of malaria. As well as the dust became a cause of silicosis and other illness.


In the year of 1993, India accepted new economic policy for the development of nation. As a part of the liberalization, privatization and globalization, the central government of India framed its “National Mineral Policy” with the prime motive on increasing economic growth and accordingly each of the state was to frame their “State Mineral Policies”.

The potential mineral bearing area of the State is about 58 thousand sq. km.  Among the major minerals found in the State, the production of coal during 2000-01 was 28.8 million tonnes, 3.8 per cent more than that during the previous year.  During the same period, the production of manganese ore increased by 2.3 per cent to 3.6 lakh tonnes.  The value of minerals extracted in the State during 2000-01 was about Rs. 2,143 crore, in which share of coal was about 94 per cent (Rs. 2,018 crore). (http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/english/megastate/economySurvery3Show.php)

The index of mineral production (base 1993-94=100) for the year 1999-2000 is estimated to be 121.15 as compared to 120.54 for 1998-99, showing a marginal growth of 0.5 per cent. The total value of mineral production (excluding atomic minerals) during 1999-2000 is estimated to be Rs. 41,052 crores, which shows an increase of 1 per cent over that of the previous year. During 1999-2000, fuel minerals have accounted for Rs. 33,678 crores or 82 per cent, metallic mineral Rs. 2,976 crores or 7 per cent, non-metallic minerals (including minor minerals) Rs. 4,398 crores or 11 per cent of the total value. (http://mines.nic.in/archp1.html)

Maharashtra is western part of India, and it constitute seventh highest contributor to the total mineral value of Indian. “Above 19 per cent of Maharashtra’s geographical area is potentially mineral-bearing. The key regions are in and around Nagpur, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Kolhapur, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Thane, and the major minerals are coal, limestone, bauxite, manganese, ore, silica sand, iron and laterite……..there are 220 mining leases excluding minor minerals and cold, in 2002-03…….In Maharashtra state mining industries generated Rs. 570 crore in 2004-05, which is an increase of 45 per cent from 2002-2003.” (Sources: Chandra Bhuhan and Monali Zeya Hazra: Rich Lands poor people is ‘sustainable’ mining possible? By Central for science and environment.)


In Maharashtra the stone quarry is an important mining business. The growing population and globalization are increasing the demand of constrictions. There are high demands of stone in bigger constriction like building towers, roads and railways tracks. Under the policy of mining in India the ‘Stone’ is categorized as ‘Minor Mineral’. The locations of Stone Quarrying and Crushing are permitted at far distance from the human habitation. But usually stone quarry activities are seen mushrooming around the Mega cities where in the Real Estate construction / developmental activities goes on at large scale.

According to “Bombay Minor Mineral Extraction Rules, 1955,” says that quarry operators are required to follow and can be heavily fined for not observing Shall not carry on or allow to be carried any mining operation at any point within a distance of 50 yards if no blasting is involved, from boundary of railway line or reservoirs or public works or buildings, except with permission of the government Shall see that the hole (where the blasting is performed) is muffled with an iron sheet with a weight of about 12 of more bags of sand on it Before starting the blasting, give warning to the public by an efficient system of signals and by putting red flags in danger zones namely 200 yards from blasting Shall warn the public not to approach the quarry within half an hour after explosion

State of Maharashtra is mostly covered by Basaltic Rocks and is commonly known as ‘Deccan Trao’. There would be over 2500 to 3000 stone quarries with crushers in the state. Stone quarry and crushing sector is treated as ‘Small-Scale’, labor intensive’ and un-organized’ providing of survival to over 40 to 50 lakhs of population in the state of Maharashtra.

Out of the 35 district of Maharashtra the 11 districts are intensive stone quarries and crasher, 18 districts have medium and 6 are with lower activities. All the mega cities are surrounded with lager stone quarries.

“According to, the manual on “State Mineral Policy & Related Matters (Manual) by Trade Commerce & Mining Department Govt. of Maharashtra, Mumbai, As on 31st Dec, 2002 the total numbers of mining that is 1762 Minor Mining and 250 are Major Mining.  In reality the n`umber should be much larger. This means about 88% minerals consists of Stone, Send, Bricks, Murum etc. of these minor minerals stone is the largest minor mineral in terms of quantity, income to the government as well as employment opportunities.” (Pashan Shala Repot 1997 to 2009, Santualn)


As per population census 2001, Maharashtra State with 9.67 crore population, is the second most populous State in India. The percentage of urban population in the State was 42.4 per cent and Maharashtra was second most urbanized State among major states of India followed by Tamil Nadu (43.9 per cent). Among that the total population of the Pune district was 7,232,555 and the urban population of Pune comprises 58.08%.

Pune is one of the district of Maharashtra and it well known for its high level educational facilities, it also known as “the Oxford of the East”. Pune is divided into 13 different takulas, which are Junner, Ambegoan, Khed, Shiru, Maval, Mulshi, Velhe, Bhor, Purandar, Baramati, Indapur Daund and Haveli. Pune City comes into Haveli taluka and it’s a headquarters of Pune district.

Wagholi is well known for his stone quarries and a developing village of Haveli Taluka. It is only 20 km’s in north from Pune station; it takes only 30 to 45 minutes to reach at the place by vehicle. Wagholi the name is derived from the temple of ‘WAGHESHWAR’ which is on the entrance to this mining complex.

There are around 15 and above stone quarries are given on lease by government but there are more than 25% quarries are running illegally, and its covering around 10 to 12 Km’s area of the village. There are around 5000 to 6000 and above people are working as a daily wage labours.

At the Wagholi stone quarry area we can find all the religion and caste group communities are working together at one place without any kind of discrimination or hierarchy, which totally depending on stone quarry for their livelihood, but within that the “Vadar” community is constituted 70% population and seems more dominating caste group in all others. Vadar is one of the Nomadic Tribe (NT) community who are knows as a stone breakers community by caste occupation in Maharashtra, which they are doing from generation to generation.

The 99% per cent populations in the Wagholi stone quarry area are the migrated from the different places of Maharashtra like Buldhana, Nanded, Ahamadnagar, Kolapur, Sangli, Satara, Nasik, Beed, Usmanabad and also from neighbouring state Karnataka. Above mention districts are comes under draught prone area or earthquake affected areas. The very common reason of migration is that all the stone workers in the quarry did not having land or any income sources for their livelihood in their own village. Last 10 to 15 year most of stone workers are working in quarry and they did not want back to their village from 10 to 12 years because they are daily wage earners, if they did not work for one day then they will not able to get food for next day, there are surviving on hand to mouth. In such condition they are not able to save money or send money to their relatives who are still staying in their native village. There are families in good numbers who are now settled in this area forever.

The migration is a continue process in the life of stone workers because some time they did not find job in one side or present quarry get closed or in the search of good wage they are always migrating one place to another place. The continue migration making stone workers more marginalize. Normally the workers are did not stay at one place more than 2 to 3 years and therefore they did not get enrolled their name in voting list or they did not getting rationing facilities from state government as well as local panchayat. But “Santulan” an organization is working in these stone quarries from 1997. The organization is helping this stone quarry workers to get voter identity card and because of this organization Wagholi stone quarry workers got their ration cards facility.

Santula started their school’s call Pashan Shala (school in the quarries) in every part of the Wagholi Stone quarry area. It is recognize by the state government of Maharashtra and government of India. These schools are opened in the community with taking help of the stone quarry owners were stone workers are staying. In Wagholi there were three schools from nursery to 7th std are running (were researchers visited), the places are Wagheshwar Nagar, Gore Wasti and Suyog Nagar and all this schools are covering 240 children in age of 3 to 18 years. For the further education children’s are going to residential school which is in Pune. Organization is providing all the facilities to the children’s, they are getting good education and other facilities like books, bags, notebook etc. with this they are also getting nutritional food by midday meal scheme in the school. But still children’s are going to quarries for work when they get weekly or public holidays from school. Parent’s wants to send their child in to school but the poor economic situation of the workers make their child to work. But there are children how stopped to doing quarry work because of the school stared. One 13 years old boy told that “I use to go in the stone quarries with mother for work but from the time Pashan School has started in our area, I have stopped going for work”.

The migration is one of the cause which affecting children education. In 2004 -2005 there are 2055 children covered by that Santulan but in the same year 946 children are migrated to different places with their family.

The stone quarry workers are not staying one place and they are migrating different places it also impacting on their social life. This workers did not having any kind of government document which show their nationality or their caste so that they are not eligible to take any government facilities like NREGA, Indira Gandhi Niradhar Yojana or any national, state or local schemes as well as their children also not getting any educational facilities in the government school or scholarship from funding organization or government.

Every day there is 5 to 10 per cent children’s are not attending the school because of the health reason. Normally children’s are having Cough, Cold, Fever and Malaria; therefore they are not attending school. But the school teachers are giving every day visit to all the houses to take children in the school. If they found any child sick or not feeling well then they take that child to local PHC or teacher’s gives medicine to that child. The First Aids Box is available in every school.

The workers are starting doing work in stone quarry in the age of 14 or 15 years so that in the age of 45 to 50 normally they will die because of doing heavy work, in the accident in quarry or illness like tuberculosis, asthma or malaria. In this situation the orphan child is stay with their relatives. One 12 years girl told that, “My Father died due to illness and therefore I used to go with my mother in stone quarries to work” (she started crying)

One of the major causes of illness of workers is dust. The process of braking stone and the crushers are generating lot of dust. In summer the situation of quarry goes at worst level and in this condition the stone workers and their families are doing work and staying at same place. With this the workers have habit of taking alcohol, smoking tobacco or Ganja, chewing tobacco or Gutkha which invites illness and death.

The chances of an accident in quarry is very high every year there are 2 to 3 accident cases are taking places (which is registered in Santulan). The owner of the quarry always trying to close the matter at side only, they give some money for the treatment only if workers relatives asked more money or something then owners throw them out from quarry or send them back to village. Most of time if any worker dead in the accident the owner give money to other workers to throw or send back death body to workers village. If the owner feels that in the case there is more risk to him then only he gives more money. Recently one case took place in Wagheshwar stone quarry area were 20 years old boy got killed in an accident the owner gave some money to his family and send them back to their village.

In the Wagholi area there are around 60 private doctors are doing their practices. The stone workers have more belief on these doctors because when workers goes to this doctor they will get relief within a day and workers also want to recover as early as possible because he is getting lose. But the realities are these doctors are exploiting them. If doctor know that the patent having good money with him then they are giving injections, saline and extra dose of medicine in normal fever also without need or reason. Here the only purpose of doctors is to earn money. When Santulan doctor tell them this face the workers do not believe on them and they not taking any medication from him because they feels that the Santulan doctor is not good. Santulan’s doctor only going to every school and doing check up of children regularly without taking any money.

From Wagholi PHC the Asha worker is coming for the immunization and polio campaigning. The PHC is 4 to 5 Km’s long from the quarry area and there is now vehicle facility available in the area because of road is not in good condition so small vehicle or government transport buses are not coming in the area. It will very difficult when any accident or pregnancy case take place.

The parents are going to work at early morning 6 or 7 o’clock and they coming back at the evening 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening. Therefore the responsibility of children is to take care of house and siblings. Children in the age group of 2 to 10 years have to complete their household work before coming in to school. Normally they have to wash the cloths and vessel, cook food and take care of siblings. The boys in age group of 4 to 12 years are normally taking meals for their parents.  If in home there is no girl then boys had to do same work which girls are doing. Children are coming to school with their sibling without that they are not able to attend school.

At Wagholi Stone quarry area the stone workers are getting very less wages then minimum wage. Again in wage structure there is gender discrimination which any one can see openly. Workers men and women starting doing work from 6 o’clock both are breaking stones and filling that stones in the tractor. Morning to evening in 12 hours hard job they are only able to fill 4 to 5 tractor. For every tractor per men is getting 30 rupees and per women is getting 25 rupees. So end of the day they are earning 100 to 120 rupees a day. They getting there wage every week so every week they are getting 700 to 800 rupees. Almost all the stone workers are taking alcohol every day as well as they have habit to smoking, chewing tobacco or Gutkha. When male workers get their wage they give only 400 to 500 rupees to run the house because remain money they are spending on drinking and their daily habits.

In the stone quarry area there are so many person and children are look more elder then their age. Children are suffering from anemia and malnutrition, children are not growing according their age because of their low economic condition workers can’t afford the nutritional food for own and their family.

There is no any date available in Santulan and during the visit no one talk about sexual abuse of children, rape or molestation of women at working place or works are visiting to prostituted. But the situation in the quarry says that there are chances that all this thinks may be taking place in the quarry area but it’s not coming in the light. Still Santulan doctor and local PHC did not identified any person with HIV/AIDS.

With the help of Santulan stone quarry workers got water facility in the quarry area. Wagholi village Panchayat build the water tank for workers but presently workers are not getting water from there because the village people cut of the tab connection. The village people were not willing to give any facilities to stone quarry area workers. The workers are using blocked quarry water which gather in the middle of quarry, they using this water for drinking, bathing and other use. In the summer workers have to be depend on mercy of village people, workers are did not taking bath and wash their cloths for 2 to 4 days.

The owner is providing electricity facility to all the workers without taking money. Owner also provided place to workers to stay. Workers build up their houses by using tine, stone or plastic paper. It is very small places where they are staying it is only 8X10 house and in that whole family is staying. In one family normally husband wife two or three children and others relative are staying together. It means in one family 7 to 8 members are staying.


The stone quarry workers are one of the marginalize group in the Maharashtra, who’s social, economical, health, educational and cultural life is totally change or its destroyed. There are children who are working as a child labour in the quarry and they can’t think about education. Women, children and men at all age are suffering from different illness and having death in very less age. People are totally dependent on others for their basic amenities and economically; socially they are bonded with owners. Quarry is a place where worker getting food for his and his family to survive but it is also a place where they are getting economical exploited by others.

We are saying India is a developing country and we arc competing with other nationals and we are emerging as powerful nation in the world. But the question comes here how it can be possible when there are lakhs and lakhs people are depending on unorganized sect0r for their livelihood without any job or life security and facilities.

Stone quarry areas in Maharashtra giving job around 10 to 12 lakhs of workers and they all are totally depend on this work only so in this situation Maharashtra government should formulate policy and fund for their development.



1)      Chandra Bhuhan and Monali Zeya Hazra: Rich Lands poor people is ‘sustainable’ mining possible? By Central for science and environment

2)      Consultation on women, mining and development- a skill-share report 16to 19 march 2009, Hyderabad, India. (mm&P)

3)      Forest People Programmer (2003), Extracting Promises- Indigenous People, Extractive Industries and World Bank, Tebtebba Foundation.

4)      Samata, Surviving a Minefield-An Adivasi Triumph, (A Landmark Supreme Court Judgement Restoring the right of Tribals) Samata Vs State of AP & Others, (2003).

5)      Khan, Khanij Aur Ham (2002), mm&P

6)      III International Women & Mining Conference report by International Women & Mining Network 2004.

7)      Samata (2007), A study on the Status and problems of Tribal Children in AP.

8)      Minerals year book 2006

9)      Minerals year book 2007

10)     Census of India 2001

11)     National Family Health Survey 2007

12)     Maharashtra Human Development Report 2002

13)     Highlights of Mining Policy and Foreign Investment-2007-2008

14)     A Report of the Consultation on the Impacts of Mining on Children in India April 2008 Samata

15)     A Report of the Fact Finding Team on the Child Labourers in the Iron Ore and Granite Mines in Bellary District of Karnataka April 2005.

16)     Elementary Education of India- District Report Cards 2007-08 National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi.

17)     “Elemental Environmentalism: Water, Air, Fire and Earth” Part of the Ottawa University Institute of Environment 2006-07 Lecture Series February 28, 2007.

18)     “Stone Quarry Workers win the battle for Right to Drinking Water” report by Santulan.

19)     “A decade long movement on right to education to put of school children in stone quarry sector in Maharashtra” Pashan Shala Raport 1997 to 2009, Santulan.

Net Resources

1)      http://www.thehindu.com/2009/07/01/stories/2009070151200300.htm

2)      http://www.cseindia.org/programme/industry/mining/political_minerals_mapdescription.htm

3)      http://www.childlineindia.org.in/

4)      http://ibm.gov.in/

5)      http://www.nacdor.org/TEXT%20FILES/Dalit.htm

6)      (http://www.articleclick.com/Article/Types-Of-Mining-Operations/3242)

7)      (http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/english/megastate/economySurvey3Show.php)

8)      (http://mines.nic.in/archp1.html)

Major Mining Areas in India



3 thoughts on “A Case Study of Wagholi Stone Workers In Wagholi Stone Quarry Area Pune, Maharashtra

  1. Sir, I appreciate your study. You really try to bring in light the issues related to unorganized sector. But i have to mention one thing here you should mention in your conclusion part, Who are this People in terms of CASTE, CLASS and GENDER. You should also mention why they are unorganized.

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