They have started knocking the doors to check if you are employing child labourers in the households.
For the first time ever, raids were conducted in city households on Tuesday to rescue domestic child labourers. Though the residents in four of the apartments raided were saved by the fact that the maids in these apartments were just above 18 years of age, more such raids will follow in different parts of the city to find out errant households, claimed officials of the State Labour Department that conducted the raids.
Proving that their earlier warning was not hollow, Labour Commissioner BD Sanap said, “This is just the beginning. On Monday we formed the task force for rescuing minor domestic maids. We may have missed this time but we are preparing a database. People are calling us up and we are in the process of verifying the data.” According to the task force and labour department survey, there are about 5000 domestic child labour in the city.
The department, on the basis of a written complaint, raided the apartments in a building in Mumbai Central near Maratha Mandir. Officials, though, claimed that the complaints had merit as the maids looked younger and looked below 18 years of age prima facie. “We may have failed in this household but not all will have the same result,” Sanap asserted.
The raid was jointly conducted by State Labour Department, Nagpara police station and Pratham, an NGO working for child labour’s cause. “We are trying to weed out misleading and false complaints as the programme will backfire then. In the coming weeks, we will see more action as we will be able to verify the information by then,” said Vikash Sawant, National Programme in charge (child labour) for Pratham and a member of Maharashtra Child Labour Task Force.
The department is also in the process of creating a domestic child helpline number where complaints can be lodged by the citizens on domestic child labours. “Eight lines have been created for a number which will start functioning by the next week. People can file complaints there,” said Sanap.
HT had reported on October 23 that the housing societies, along with the original employers, will also be punishable if a child labour is found in the campus. “For example, we already finalised the clauses under which action could be taken in this case if children were found in this campus. But we are trying our best not to knock the wrong door,” said assistant labour commissioner (Mumbai) RS Jadhav.