While the Uttar Pradesh carpet industry is under increasing pressure to ban child labour, young children in Pali in Rajasthan continue to work in appalling conditions in the 1,000-odd dye and print industries. Children screen-print sarees, bedsheets and bed covers. Factory owner Sunil Chaubra admits, "We prefer to hire children because we can pay them less than adults."
The ill-lit sheds do not have adequate ventilation to disperse fumes of chemicals such as acetone, which is used as a dye solvent. Inhaled continuously and in high concentrations, the chemicals can cause dizziness. Prolonged exposure can cause skin cancer, says K P Nyati, environmental advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The children are mostly from Jaisalmer and Barmer and have been employed in the dyeing units since the units were first set up in Pali in the early 1970s, says Chaubra.
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