The claims of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government about child labour being under control in the district seem to have fallen flat, as the district labour department has conducted only nine raids and rescued three children in the last ten months.
Though several schemes to prevent children from working in hazardous environments are in place, they are not being implemented in the district due to the apathy of the administration.
Sukhjinder Singh, assistant labour commissioner, Jalandhar, said, "The shortage of inspectors makes it very tough for us to work on every complaint. As of now, only two inspectors are deployed in the region. They spend two days at Jalandhar and one day each at Nakodar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts in a week."
As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, employment of children below the age of 14 in hazardous industries that are harmful to the health of the child is banned.
According to data made available by the Census of India in 2014, child labourers in the age group of 10-14 years account for 2.59% of the state's population.
The district-wise census data reveals that the share of child labour in districts like Jalandhar, Amritsar, Bathinda, Moga and Nawanshahr are a little higher than their share in the total population.
Dinesh Kumar, Jalandhar-based activist and member of the non-governmental organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), said there were more than 300 child labourers in Doaba region.
He further said that nearly 15 cases of child labour had been identified by BBA in Jalandhar.
Kumar stated that most of the child labourers were employed in the industry area and football market.
He maintained: "Around 40% of the complaints of child labour are still pending in Punjab and the state government has done nothing to prevent child labour."
On the directions of the state government, the Jalandhar district administration set up a district task force committee to protect the child labourers and prevent further instances of child labour.
In this committee, one representative each from various departments, including education, police, district planning and development, child welfare, rural development, district administration and labour, have to convene a monthly meeting to review the work undertaken to prevent child labour in the district.
But the committee has not yet undertaken any steps.
However, when Hindustan Times contacted Jalandhar deputy commissioner KK Yadav, he said: "We will convene a meeting and review the work done by the department."