Bhopal: A heart-rending incident has come to limelight in Madhya Pradesh, where a fourteen-year-old boy has been found to be working as a bonded labour in Harda district.
As per reports, Santram was mortgaged by his father way back in 2009 to a local 'bania' Kanhaiya Lal Bhandari for Rs 5,000, and six quintals of wheat.
Since then the minor boy has been working at Bhandari's place. Reports say that Santram used to work for 12-14 hours a day without having proper food.
While speaking to Zee Media, Santram's father Bhagirath broke down saying that he was compelled to send his son to Bhandari's place as he had no source of income.
After the story hogged limelight, MP Minister of Urban Administration, Housing and Environment Kailash Vijayvargiya said that appropriate action will be taken by the administration and assured strict action against the guilty.
Santram's story is not unique as several kids in various parts of Madhya Pradesh are forced to work as bonded labours as their parents mortgage them due to acute poverty.
Recently, the Union Cabinet approved an amendment in the Child Labour Act allowing children above 14 years to work in non-hazardous industries run by families.
An official statement said that while considering a total prohibition on employment of child, it would be prudent to also keep in mind the country's social fabric and socio- economic conditions.
Justifying the amendments, it said, "In a large number of families, children help their parents in their occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc and while helping the parents, children also learn the basics of occupations.
"Therefore, striking a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country, the Cabinet has approved that a child can help his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupation or process, after his school hours or during vacation."
Besides, a new definition of adolescent has been introduced in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act and employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) has been prohibited in hazardous occupations and processes.
"These provisions would go a long way in protecting adolescents from the employment not suitable to their age," it said.
The statement said that in case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the law, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to two years.
Besides, the violators could be fined an amount not less than Rs 20,000 which may extend to Rs 50,000. They could also be penalised with both imprisonment and monetary fine.
Earlier, penalty for employing any child in contravention of the law was imprisonment for a term not less than three months, which could extend to one year.
The monetary penalty for the same was a fine not less than Rs 10,000, which could extend to Rs 20,000 either alone or with the imprisonment.