Aamir Khan as ambassador, radio jingles to spread awareness, and daily allowances to keep children in school.
That’s the state’s new, three-pronged approach to abolishing child labour by 2011.
Worried over the slow progress of the campaign, the Labour Department is looking at upping public awareness to make sure the state gets rid of child labour in hazardous units by 2010 and all child labour by 2011.
This is the extended deadline it has committed to before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a suo moto petition against child labour.
So far, only three of the 34 districts of the state can boast of being free of child labour in hazardous units. The state government had promised to rid the state of child labour in hazardous units completely by the end of 2008.
“We have realised that this can’t be done unless we focus on awareness. We are looking at whether actors like Aamir Khan, who has a good image, can associate himself with the campaign,” said Labour Minister Nawab Malik.
The department is looking at a 20-fold increase in its publicity fund, currently a paltry Rs 2 lakh. It also plans to ask organisations like UNESCO for help.
Soon, radio jingles, TV ads against child labour and stickers and posters for restaurants and other establishments stating ‘We are child labour-free’ may become a common sight in Mumbai and Thane, where a large number of children are still employed in hazardous employment at zari units, tanning factories and gold polishing units.
“Awareness is the key, because children are even hired in upscale south Mumbai as domestic helps,” said Malik.
Another major change in state policy will be in the rehabilitation of child labourers. The Labour Department is looking at a daily allowance for children rescued from industries, as an incentive to stay in school.