After putting hospitality industry and domestic helps under child labour regulations from October 10, the government now intends to provide residential schools in each district for child labourers.
In an elaborative plan prepared for the next five years, the ministry of Labour has asked the Planning Commission for about Rs 1,500 crore to cover all the 600 districts under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) as against only 250 districts at present. It will be the country's biggest project to cover 1.26 crore child labourers.
According to ministry officials, children working in 57 hazardous industries and in dhabas and homes, in the age-group of 9 to 14, will be covered under the revised project. "NGOs will be authorised to open residential schools for 40 children in each district for bringing these children into the mainstream," the official said. These schools will be opened after a detailed survey by a district level committee headed by district collector, who will also monitor the scheme.
The children in these schools, to be set up near child labour endemic areas, will also get a stipend of Rs 100 per month from the government. They will also get benefit from other government schemes like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the official informed.
Like most government schemes, the question remains of its working out or not. Though officials quote Andhra Pradesh's example to show that figures of child labour have gone down in areas fully covered under the NCLP, they, however, are not willing to give a deadline as to when child labour will be brought under control. "There are a number of factors linked with child labour and we are not the nodal ministry to deal with all the issues," he explained.
Now, the government is also focussing on identifying child labour endemic locations in the country which needs special emphasis. Places like Sitamani in Bihar and West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh are the biggest sources of child labourers to metropolitan cities. "The need is to tackle the problem of employment in the specific locations," the official emphasised.
As part of the new strategy, each state government has submitted an action plan to deal with the child labour problem. Most states have promised to work on the rehabilitation and training of child labourers. "We will come up with the National Vocational Training Mission before next year to provide support to state governments in this regard," the ministry official promised.
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Highest child labour figures are in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
State Action Plans
A recent analysis found that extreme poverty in Sitamani district in Bihar is one of the main source of child labourers in Delhi.
Delhi Human Resource Development Report 2006 has found a high number of child labourers in the capital. In November 2005, a survey was done in trans Yamuna area and the government found that rehabilitating children working in the zari industry was just not possible.
Delhi Government has involved NGOs, RWAs and police to identify child labourers. Government will construct more shelters and MCD will accommodate children in non-commissioned schools, Public Works Departments in Bharat Ghars and in Griha Kalyan Kendras. NGOs will provide counselling. Government estimates that Rs two crore will be required for this till the end of the current financial year.
Action plans of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal
Child welfare committees to provide food, clothing, medical help and counselling to the rescued children. Better coordination with District Magistrates in Delhi and Mumbai to bring back children to their homes. While Bihar and West Bengal sends boys, girls come from Jharkhand.
Action Plan of Karnataka
Labour inspectors after taking permission from the Labour Commission can inspect an house for employment of children. The permission is given on specific information from an NGO. Doctor and female officers are required to accompany the inspector during inspection. Doctor notifies the age of the child. Over 750 children have been identified as domestic helps and 250 of them have been rehabilitated, while 10 have been resettled with their families. As many as 16 cases filed. Two residential Bridge Centres have been set up for their education.
Special focus is in rural areas, home for child labourers in cities. The vulnerable are provided employment and education avenues through self-help groups. The work has resulted in a dip in the number of child labourers in the state.