Every 10th child in State is labourer: Report
CURSE BEGINS with birth. If it?s not death at birth or some years later, it could be hell worse than death. For a million of child labourers it is impossible to shake off the miasma of poverty in the State, which is second in infant mortality rate (IMR) and the third in carrying the scourge of child labour in the country.india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 15:50 IST
CURSE BEGINS with birth. If it’s not death at birth or some years later, it could be hell worse than death. For a million of child labourers it is impossible to shake off the miasma of poverty in the State, which is second in infant mortality rate (IMR) and the third in carrying the scourge of child labour in the country.
Ten out of every 100 children in the age group of 6-14 years (more than 10 lakh) are engaged in works categorised as child labour in the State, according to the latest report ‘Status of Children in India Inc.’ released by the HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
If the pathetic healthcare has brought the State notoriety in IMR, the callous neglect of child labour laws has spawned child labour.
Consider the futility of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. In the first five months of 2003, only 17 convictions were possible against 1681 acquittals under the Act!
“Problem is indeed grave”, admits Principal Secretary, Labour, Rakesh Bansal. But he rightly adds that law alone would not suffice in tackling the evil. Its socio-economic aspect has to be taken into consideration, he emphasises.
He told the Hindustan Times that the department has studied the problem in details and is chalking out a multi-pronged strategy to tackle it. The PS said that he has already sent a circular to field offices of the department, asking them to ensure strict monitoring of hazardous industries like mining, stone crushers, brick kilns, cracker units and so on to see that no child labourers are engaged there.
For the non-hazardous works, the PS said, the department is emphasising on ensuring that the children are not made to work for long hours, get opportunity of education and are treated humanely.
“It would be impractical to expect redemption of the entire child labour since there is a big economic aspect related to it. We are thus trying to go a step at a time,” he explained.
Rakesh Bansal also said that he has held talk with the Central Government authorities to get incorporated a component of economic empowerment of parents of the child labourers identified under the Central projects like National Child Labour Project (NCLP) being run in 22 districts of the State and the Indus Child Labour Project in five districts.
He has also suggested extension of the NCLP in other districts of the State. Rajkumar Sharma of NGO ‘Centre for Advocacy’, however, says that unless the civil society is more involved in the entire process, the efforts would remain only half-baked.
Although number-wise the State has the fifth largest child labour force in country, calculation based on population percentage shows that after Rajasthan (2.23 pc) and Andhra Pradesh (1.78 pc), Madhya Pradesh is third as regard to population percentage of child labour at 1.76 pc.
With the total child labour figure of country standing at 1,25,91,667, the State contributes 8.84 of entire child labour force in country.
The HAQ report puts the child labour figure (quoting from the Registrar General of India and the Census of 2001) in the State at 10,65,259. Number-wise, MP is placed at fifth spot behind Uttar Pradesh (19,27,997), Andhra Pradesh (13,63,339), Rajasthan (12,62,570) and Bihar (11,175,00).