City of Palaces witnesses drastic decline in child labour

But children still resort to begging on the streets

One of the most haunting realities of India is child labour. But it seems that the City of Palaces has taken a step forward to prevent the menace. According to a recent week-long drive, conducted across the city by the labour department authorities, it did not find any child labour.

Labour department Assistant Commissioner (AC) Meena Patil said, “The department officials did not find any child labour in the city. But, we do not rule out that the menace has stopped. However, it has definitely come down.”

Raids were conducted on commercial establishments like hotels, canteens, scrap item selling shops, traffic junctions and other places. During the raids, the authorities have issued strict warning to the employers not to employ children for work.

The department has been issuing strict warnings to employers against hiring children below the age of 14 years. “No children, below 14 years, should be subjected to hazardous, non-hazard or domestic work. If we find any person making children work, strict action, as per rule, will be taken. But, there are many children between 14 and 17 years, working in various sectors in the city. As per the Child Labour Act, only children below 14 years of age are considered as child labour,” Meena said.

“A majority of the children between 14 and 17 years are involved in begging or selling goods on roadside. The Women and Child Development department and other departments concerned, including Labour department, will conduct a drive next month,” the Assistant Commissioner said.

Awareness campaignsIn order to create awareness among the employers about the law and the Act, the department has planned a workshop for scrap shop owners in March first week.

“Campaigning against child labour and awareness campaigns for eliminating it in the last few years have helped to control the problem. These campaigns have been taken up in association with various social organisations,” the authorities claimed.

Admitting that a decline in the trend is being witnessed in the number of cases of child labour in the city, Rural Literacy and Health Programme (RLHP) Director K Saraswathi opined it was a good sign.

“Awareness about child labour problems is increasing and various schemes like midday meals, Right to Education (RTE), etc., have contributed hugely in this regard,” she said.

Saraswathi said, “There are child labourers in various sectors like domestic, agriculture, automobile and others. A lot more work is required, as the problem of child labour has not been totally sorted out.” In 2015, RLHP had rescued nearly 150 children from slums and rural region pushed into child labour. 

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