In an attempt bid to curb child labour and child trafficking in the state, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has recommended involving northern and north-eastern states, as well as neighbouring countries such as Nepal, to come up with a joint action plan.
The commission has identified these regions as the resource states from where children are being trafficked to Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra.
Urging the government of India to bring all these states and countries together for a joint action plan, AN Tripathi, secretary of the child rights commission, has called for a meeting with secretaries of states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
“Looking at the recent child trafficking cases, it appears that like Hyderabad and Jaipur, Mumbai is also emerging as a destination and transit point for child labour,” stated the letter written to VS Oberoi, secretary, women and child development ministry, on Friday.
The letter adds children are being trafficked to the city on promises of bogus marriages, employment and education.
“The children, mainly from eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, north-eastern states and Nepal, are being trafficked by well networking organised gangs (sic),”read the letter.
Tripathi said child labour will not reduce unless all the states concerned work with each other.
“Currently, even if a child is rescued in Mumbai, it becomes difficult to repatriate and rehabilitate the child to its home state as there is no co-operation between states on this issue,” said Tripathi.
“All the states grappling with this problem need to come up with a joint solution,” he said.
To come up with more suggestions on fighting child labour, the commission has also appointed a 10-member expert panel, including various non-government organisations (NGOs), from the city.
“The panel is working on a policy to curb child labour that will be sent to the Central government for implementation,” said Dr Yamini Suvarna, CARE, member of the panel.
* The state commission took up the cause of fighting child labour after Pratham, a city based non-government organisation, complained of child labour at the city’s docks
* According to the complaint, 652 child labourers (between 6 and 14 years) were found employed as fish cleaners in the godowns at Sasoon Docks in Colaba
* The complaint stated labour authorities were not using strict sections of the law to punish employers of child labour, thus encouraging them to indulge in the practice