On Indian building site, parents tether toddler to rock while they work

Tue May 17, 2016 7:51am EDT
 
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By Amit Dave

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - Fifteen month-old Shivani tugs at a plastic tape her mother has wrapped around her leg and tied to a rock at a building site in western India.

Barefoot and caked in dust, the toddler spends nine hours a day in temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) attached to the 4.5 foot (1.4 meter) tape marked "caution".

Sarta Kalara, her mother, says she has no option but to tether Shivani to the stone despite her crying, while she and her husband work for 250 rupees ($3.8) each a shift digging holes for electricity cables in the city of Ahmedabad.

"I tie her so she doesn't go on the road. My younger son is three and a half so he is not able to control her," said the 23-year old, covering her face with her sari.

"This site is full of traffic, I have no option. I do this for her safety."

There are about 40 million construction workers in India, at least one in five of them women, and the majority poor migrants who shift from site to site, building infrastructure for India's booming cities.

Across the country it is not uncommon to see young children rolling in the sand and mud as their parents carry bricks or dig for new roads or luxury houses.

Many such families live in tents on site or, like Shivani's, bed down in the open at night.   Continued...

 
Barrier tape is tied around 15-month-old Shivani's ankle to prevent her from running away, while her mother Sarta Kalara works at a construction site nearby, in Ahmedabad, India, April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave