Six child labourers rescued from construction site

Kids forced to work for more than 12 hours a day for less wages

Six children working as child labourers were rescued on Friday from the construction site of Soochna Bhawan in CGO complex, which is likely to be the new office of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

In a similar raid on Tuesday, 12 children were rescued from the north-west district of Delhi, from sweets shops, leather and garment units and roadside dhabas. The police raided the construction site along with a child rights group. The rescue operation was led by Pravesh Ranjan Jha, sub-divisional magistrate, south district.

“The rescued labourers are declared bonded labourers as they were getting lesser wages than the defined minimum wages for labourers notified by the government. They will be provided with a release certificate and a compensation of Rs 20,000,” said Jha.

The rescued children belong to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and are between the age of 13-17 years. They were working for Era Infra Engineering Limited and were forced to work for more than 12 hours a day, only for Rs 130-160 as daily wages, which is much below the prescribed minimum wage in Delhi.

When found, many of these children were shabbily dressed in flimsy pants and shirts. One of the victims, aged 14 years, said he was trafficked to Delhi by his brother-in-law. “ I was told that I will get Rs 130 on a daily basis for working here but I have not been given anything till now. Whenever I asked for money, the thekedaar sent me away,” he said.

These children were forced to do iron rod cutting, electrical repair and even plumber work. Child rights activist Rakesh Senger said Delhi government's wage guidelines specify  that skilled labour should get Rs 7,000 a month but the children did this work either for free or just for Rs 130 a day.   
“We managed to rescue only six children but there are around 10-15 other children, who are below the age of 10. They stay in temporary jhuggis along the construction site and we cannot pull them out from these shelters,” added the Bachpan Bachao Aandolan activist.

As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986,  “child” means a person who has not completed 14 years of age.

The Act prohibits employment of children in 18 occupations and 65 processes contained in Part A and B of the Schedule to the Act (Section 3). Any person who employs any child in contravention to the Act is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term of three months but which may extend to one year or a fine of anywhere between Rs 10,000-20,000.

Confusion
At a meeting held on Friday of the newly-constituted Central Advisory Board on child labour, Mallikarjun Kharge, minister of Labour and Employment, said there is confusion about the age of a child defined in ILO Convention 182 and Indian Child Labour Act, which is preventing the government from taking adequate action.

ILO convention stresses on prohibition of employment of children below 18 years in hazardous occupations, whereas, in India as per the Child Labour Act, this age is 14 years.

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