PLEASE NOTE:

FOR RELEASE AT 01:01am BST, ONJULY 18

STORY TO MATCH: INVESTIGATION - Drowning for Sand: miners risking all for India’s building boom

SCRIPT

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SANDEEP KHAKHA, sand miner: I don't think anything.

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I just think that I should get good sand.

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And enough sand so that I can fill up the boat quickly.

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If the sand above falls over you,

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you are gone.

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TITLE: Drowning for sand

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SANDEEP KHAKHA, sand miner: I work at the sand port.

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I dive into the sea

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and get 250-300 buckets of sand [in one shift].

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Then I come up and then I take a little rest.

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TEXT: Along Vasai Creek, about 25 km north of Mumbai, up to 75,000 men are working illegally as sand miners.

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TEXT: Illegal extraction of sand in India generates about $150 million a year.

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SANDEEP KHAKHA, sand miner: It is all dark inside the water.

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I have to judge where the sand is with my leg.

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I then get a grip in the sand with my feet and press the bucket into the sand to fill it.

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And then I pull the bucket out.

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I wait four to fice seconds and go back.

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TEXT: Divers descend to the creek bed up to 200 times over a 6-hour shift.

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TEXT: They can make $15 for a boat-full of sand. The average daily wage in India is about $4.

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RADHESYAM SAHNI, sand diver: I've been doing this work for 15 years.

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I'm from Uttar Pradesh

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but I have come here to work.

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I work here for three to four months and then go back home to my children.

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I will not let them do this work. It is very dangerous work.

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TEXT: As more sand is mined, divers must go deeper. They are not given safety equipment.

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LAKSHMAN BHAU KHOTAGE, sand miner: I have problems with one of my ears now, it bleeds. Blood comes out of it constantly.

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In nice years, I spent around 16,000 rupees in total for my ear treatment.

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LAKSHMAN DABU BHORE, sand miner: While I worked there, my head started hurting.

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Blood started coming out of my ear and nose.

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My chest started hurting.

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After coming out from the water,

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within 15 to 20 minutes of sitting on the boat in the sun,

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my head would spin.

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TEXT: A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found that men are dying illegally mining sand, but their deaths go unreported.

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CHANDRAKANT SHANKAR MEGHWALI: He is my son.

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He died while working.

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I used to work as a sand miner and, seeing me, he also started doing the same.

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We don't know whether the bucket hit him or what happened.

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It was the day after my son died, that his body floated up in the water.

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SANDEEP KHAKHA, sand miner: Last year, I saw two divers die.

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Their bodies were found on the third day.

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I'm married, I have two children.

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I speak to them every day.

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They pester me with demands for gifts.

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My mother asks me when I will come home. I tell her I will come back. There is work now.

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I will come after it starts raining.