Inspired by child labour activist Kailash Satyarthi’s Nobel Prize, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSPCR) has decided to prepare a draft policy to curb child labour and trafficking.
The policy will be based on suggestions from a 10-member expert panel, including various non-government organisations (NGOs), from the city. The draft policy will then be put forth before the state and Central government for their nod.
As per the 2001 census, Maharashtra has round 3.5 lakh child labourers. The state, however, does not have a policy on tackling child labour. The commission has decided to formulate the draft policy themselves as the government has not taken any steps to do so despite repeated reminders. It has also recommended formulating a concrete policy at the national level.
“We have been writing to the government for the last two years to lay down a child labour policy but to no avail,” said AN Tripathi, secretary of the commission. “We were inspired by Satyarthi’s efforts to combat child labour, and so have decided to formulate a draft policy and submit it to the state and national governments.”
Representatives from NGOs such as Pratham, Yuva, Save the Children, Care and Unicef have been asked to give their suggestions for the policy. “We had carried out a study in April this year that found that over 76% of the child labourers return to work even after being rescued,” said Dr Yamini Suvarna, CARE. “To make matters worse, they are also exploited by the police or welfare workers. Inter-department co-operation is needed to tackle this.”
The commission will also organise a meeting between the expert panel and various government departments soon.