Govt has no data on action against child labour in `09

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 15:04

New Delhi: Three years since a complete ban
on child labour in the country, more than one crore children
are still working in various areas and worse, the government
has no data on enforcement of the ban during 2009, child
rights organisations said citing government`s RTI reply.

"In the last three years, a mockery has been made out of
the law," said Bhuwan Ribhu, national secretary of Bachpan
Bachao Andolan (BBA), a child rights organisation, which had
filed an RTI query with the Union Ministry of Labour and
Employment.

"The reply was quite shocking. The ministry has no data
whatsoever on the enforcement of the ban for the year 2009,"
said Ribhu, although estimates suggest there are 30 million
children working across sectors.

As per Labour Ministry, a total of 12,666,377 children
were working in various sectors including agriculture.

An estimated 185,595 children are employed as domestic
help and in small roadside eateries while most child domestic
workers are trafficked by placement agencies operating in poor
states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In October 2006, the government amended the 23-year-old
child labour act, bringing two more categories -- children
working as domestic helps and those employed in road-side
eateries, hotels, restaurants, teashops, spas and other
recreation centres -- under the prohibited occupations, thus
enforcing a complete ban on employment of children.

The situation on the ground has not changed even three
years after the ban that prohibited employment of children
aged under 14 years, the child rights activists contend.

The officials, however, asserted that they were doing
whatever possible to completely enforce the ban. "We are doing
the best possible and (that too) as per the guidelines issued
by the Delhi High Court," a senior labour department official
said, not wishing to be named.

According to him, they were overworked and understaffed.

As per the information obtained, the authorities have
carried out only 36,430 inspections across the country between
October 2006 and April 2008. Of them 1,700 cases detected and
only 138 prosecutions have been filed, Ribhu said.

While 528 children were sent back to their parents
without legal formalities, only 145 children were put in
shelter homes.

Strangely, there are only 28 families -- 26 in Andhra
Pradesh and two in Karnataka -- that received economic
benefits for rehabilitation, under the Bonded Labour Act, he
added.

"Previously, only the stone-quarries, zari factories,
industries and brick kilns, were the culprits. But now, with
two additional areas included, the child labour law is being
flouted behind every other door." said Ribhu, citing the 2006
amendment to the law.

Prabir Basu, National Convenor of Campaign Against Child
Labour (CACL), another NGO working for children`s rights,
however, said that the real figure could be much higher.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 15:04

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