Showing scant regard for protection of child rights, the district administration is sitting on more than 650 release certificates (RCs) of the rescued child labourers who were employed in various commercial and domestic establishments in Ludhiana. As a result, the rehabilitation of these child labourers is in a limbo over a period of 4 years now.
Attribute it to the sheer apathy on the part of the district administration or a deliberate attempt to stage eyewash; these child labourers’, mostly working in industrial units in Ludhiana were rescued from 2012-2016, release certificates are either not prepared or are lying pending with the child welfare commission and respective SDMs (sub-divisional magistrate).
Sources in the administration revealed that 121 RCs are pending with the district child rights protection office (a unit of CWC), 103 RCs are pending with SDM (east) and 58 RCs are not even signed by administrative officials, while around 350 RCs certificates are not even prepared.
As per the data procured from an NGO, 607 children have been rescued by the administration till June 2016, while a number of raids conducted afterwards put that number to 650 till now, as claimed by a member of the NGO. The Bonded Labour Act, 1976, mandates that a release certificate is a must for the economic and academic rehabilitation of the rescued child labourers and a grant of Rs1 lakh (male child labour) to Rs 3 lakh (Rs 2 lakh for female while Rs 3 lakh for rape victims) be released for the purpose by the resident commissioner of the native state of the rescued child.
The district education and labour department have also played their part by giving tacit approval to the menace condescendingly. The State Action Plan for Elimination of Child Labour mandates that the education department must enroll the rescued child labours to provide them elementary education but not even a single child is enrolled.
Similarly, the district labour department officials did not forward the records of majority of the rescued child labours, in the absence of which the process to release certificates could not be completed.
Moreover, the administration has failed to ensure that former get their ‘back wages’ (wages for the extra work taken by their employer).
OFFICIALS PASS THE BUCK
When contacted, in their bid to avoid divulging the details about the enrolment of rescued child labours, Gurjot Singh, district education officer, primary and Paramjeet Kaur, DEO, secondary, passed the buck to each other.
The deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, Ravi Bhagat, who is the chairman of the District Taskforce Committee for Elimination of Child Labour, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.