New Delhi: Stressing on the need for urgent
amendments to the child labour law, a group of eminent people
have given a petition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking
a ban on all forms of employment of children under the age of
`Save the Children`, an NGO, which started a 45-day
campaign against child labour, asked 45 prominent people from
various walks of life to endorse a petition at the end of its
The petition sought for urgent amendments to the existing
child labour law in the wake of the Right to Education Act,
which provides for free and compulsory elementary education to
all children of the age of 6-14 years.
By signing the petition, they all have agreed that the
Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) should be
amended as soon as possible to ban employment of children
under 14, the NGO said in a release Monday.
Harpal Singh of the NGO said, "With this historic
legislation (RTE), the CLPRA must be amended immediately. You
cannot have one law that promises elementary education to all
children and another one regulating child labour. Children
cannot be both working and in school at the same time - let`s
ensure that it is only the latter."
Officially, there are close to 13 million children who
are engaged in child labour in India, but unofficial estimates
put the figure at over 40 million.
The CLPRA makes a distinction between hazardous and non-
hazardous categories of work for children below 14. But,
activists say there can`t be any distinction between the
Approximately 70 per cent of children in child labour are
in agriculture. Yet, the CLPRA does not take cognisance of
this category of children. The law must be amended to include
the millions of children engaged in child labour on
agricultural farms, the NGO stressed.
Those who signed the petition included members of the
newly reconstituted National Advisory Council Harsh Mander, NC
Saxena and Anu Agha; members of the Planning Commission Arun
Maira and Syeda Hameed; chairperson of the NCPCR Shantha
Sinha; actor Rahul Bose among others.
Several MPs such as Kalikesh Singh Deo (BJD); Jose K
Mani, Viplove Thakur and Meenakshi Natarajan (Congress);
Raghavendra Yeddyurappa (BJP) also endorsed the petition.