The Gautam Budh Nagar district administration on Friday evening rescued nine children who were employed in shops at Chhalera market in Sector 44 and Brahmaputra market in Sector 29 in violation of the child labour rules.
According to the recently amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, it is illegal to employ any person below the age of 14 years and those aged 14-18 in hazardous conditions. An offence is punishable by law to the extent of Rs50,000 fine and six months of jail time.
The operation was part of a campaign led by district magistrate NP Singh. The team, led by deputy labour commissioner BK Roy, comprised officials of the labour department, non-government agencies (NGOs) and anti-human trafficking police.
The rescued children were aged between nine and 15 years. The team raided Kanishka Vaishnav dhaba, Satguru Vaishnav dhaba, Taj Chicken corner and Rama Chicken corner in Chhalera market and Balle Balle restaurant, Lakshmi Coffee House and Amul Milk Parlour in Brahmaputra market.
“We rescued nine children who were employed at various eateries and food joints in the two marketplaces. Only two kids were employed in non-hazardous conditions, at the Amul Milk Parlour. Rest of the kids were employed in hazardous conditions,” said Roy.
The act states that employing children in restaurants, food joints and mechanic shops is hazardous as it compromises on their health, safety and education.
“The children who work in restaurants have to stay close to gas cylinders and fire at all times. They are made to wash utensils till late night and are often sleep-deprived. Only jobs at ration shops and cycle puncture shops can be termed non-hazardous. Even employing children for household work is hazardous according to the law since there are many cases of sexual and mental harassment,” said Roy.
According to the provisions, a compulsory medical test must be done on the rescued children. “We have conducted a medical test of the children and sent them to a shelter home. Their guardians have been notified and they will have to sign an affidavit (to not violate the child labour law),” said Roy.
The shop owners have been served a notice by the labour department and the documents will be sent to the court for further process. “We have also charged them Rs20,000 each for the rehabilitation of the rescued children,” Roy said.
The team will conduct more raids in the district throughout April, officials said. “Our campaign started on April 1 and we will be visiting rural areas of Jewar and Dadri as well. It is my request to the people to stop child labour as the law has become stricter. We must come together to save them,” said Roy.