With the government making several schemes for the welfare of children, still hundreds of them continue to work in different factories, doing hazardous jobs without any action from the authorities concerned. Though some child labourers have been rescued with the help of non-government organisations (NGO) from time to time, no effective policy is in place, so far.
Even as the deputy commissioner had constituted a district task force committee on child labour having members from the NGOs, industries department and police, but the committee has not met once in the past eight months raising a question on the seriousness of the authorities.
NGOs working for the welfare of child labour allege that they keep providing information regarding child labourers in different factories in the city, but the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities does not allow them to take any action.
The government departments rue staff shortage for carrying out searches and raids on different factories where the presence of child labour is felt.
Also, as these children belong to poor families, their parents only get them employed in factories.
Dinesh Kumar, an activist of city-based NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said a large number of applications requesting raids at specific factories were pending with the factories wing of the industries department.
“Officials at the wing are sitting on their hands even after receiving complaints about specific areas where children continue to work,” he added.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan has in the past rescued several child labourers from different factories in the city and handed them to the district administration which is supposed to take care of these rescued children.
Interestingly, at least 65 applications of relief certificate, a document that provides financial support to the rescued child, are pending with the sub-district magistrate concerned in the city. These 65 children were rescued from different factories in the past.
Rehabilitation of the rescued child is the responsibility of the district administration of the area from where they are rescued.
Sukesh Kalia, vice-chairman of the Protection of Child Rights Commission, Punjab, said, “As soon as an NGO complains to us regarding the presence of child labour in any factory in the state, I direct the respective deputy commissioner (DC) or other authorities concerned to take action immediately.”
“I am aware of the presence of a large number of child labourers even in Ludhiana, but due to staff shortage, the rescue process is delayed,” he Kalia.
He said a team specifically to rescue child labour in Ludhiana should be formed and later it could be extended to other districts of the state.
DC Rajat Agarwal said, “Efforts have to be consistent and continuous to curb child labour. The labour department, which is responsible for taking action on this social evil, lacks resources. However, we have to create awareness to end child labour as it has several aspects involved.”