'Sending child workers back home to their states is not enough'

'Sending child workers back home to their states is not enough'

Labour Minister RamaKant Goswami in conversation with Sandeep Yadav

What has the Delhi government done to check the problem of child labour ?

Conceptually, we are the first state in the country to draw a comprehensive road map for the convergence of rescue, repatriation & rehabilitation of child labourers. Various government and non-governmental agencies like the police, labour department, women and child development department (WCD), NGOs have been assigned specific duties in the entire operation. It starts from rescuing a child to sending him back to his parents’ state and thereafter, monitoring his progress there. It involves a lot of hard work and we are doing our best.

It is alleged that the most of the child labourers in Delhi are from outside the state. If true, is something being done to check this trend?

As per our records, 95 per cent of the rescued children are from other states and majority of them belong to UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Now, we have made a state level coordination committee headed by Delhi Chief Secretary, and including resident commissioners of the other states, for the rehabilitation of these children. Resident commissioners of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are already members of this committee. Even after these children are sent back to their homes we monitor their activities and provide financial help for their education or vocational training. For, sending them back alone is not enough; they might return again to Delhi and we would be engaged in the entire exercise again. 

Is there any target set for rescuing child labourers per month or week? How many children in thelast couple of years have been rescued from various factories in Delhi?
There is no fixed target. Depending on the information, the labour department may raid on three consecutive days or may not be able to do so for an entire week. However, about 1,300 children in the national capital have been rescued under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 between July 2009 and October 2011. And more than 95 per cent of them were from outside Delhi.

What about the five per cent of the child labourers who belong to Delhi? What is done to rehabilitate them?

The rehabilitation of these children is done by the Delhi Child Labour Rehabilitation cum Welfare Society. The society has been running transitional education centres (TECs) to impart education to the rescued child labourers. The society works with the objective to bring these children into the mainstream by getting them enrolled in regular schools. The government is also considering increasing the stipend payable to rescued child labourers enrolled in TECs from Rs 150 per month to Rs 500. In addition, funds assigned for nutrition might also be increased from Rs 5 per child per day to Rs 10 per child per day.

There must be some destitute childre n as well?

They are required to be kept in shelters run by or under the authority of women and child development department. Such children are also entitled to the stipend which is paid to other rescued child labourers. The medical treatment and other facilities of these children are also looked after by WCD.