The activists say that the action plan alone is not enough to eradicate child labour.

Activists call Telangana govts bluff on draft child labour plan Find root cause firstImage for representation/credit: Thompson Rueters
news Child Labour Sunday, May 07, 2017 - 17:29

Even as the Telangana government announced an action plan to eradicate child and adolescent labour by 2021 on Saturday, child rights activists have expressed their reservations about the government’s move.  

The activists say that the action plan alone is not enough to eradicate child labour if the officials concerned do not take their responsibility seriously and if the government does not ensure the safety of the rescued children. 

“The child labour act has been there for decades, but the problem has been at a rise in Telangana for past years. Though it is a good move but without identifying the root cause of child labour, this action plan will be a failure for Telangana,” said Nithin Kumar from a Hyderabad-based NGO working for the welfare of children.

According to the activist, most of the children working in unorganised sectors like local dhabas, restaurants and vegetable shops, go unnoticed.

 “The officials raid the factories, but fail to check on small unorganised places. They will have to first identify those victims only then they can achieve the goal. They do not analyse the problem. The government needs a better approach to the problem,” he added.  

The Chief Secretary, S P Singh, while approving the draft Action Plan, directed the Labour department to strengthen the district and mandal level committees. He has advised that periodic surprise inspection be conducted and strict action to be taken against habitual offenders. 

Child rights activists have been disappointed with the government’s lax attitude towards offenders. 

“In the past five year none of the offenders have been convicted. The official take a fine of Rs 20,000 and let them off. The law should be made stricter,” said Achyuta Rao, a Hyderabad-based child right activist. 

In 2017, over 700 children working in brick kilns, bangle factories and as domestic workers have been rescued, said the activist. But activists say despite raids, the cases have only increased every year. 

“Last year, more than 120 children were rescued from the houses of government officials, where they were employed as domestic helpers. Some of the girl children were even victims of sexual abuse. All the accused were from well-off families and educated. They are aware of the law, still these cases exist,” Achyuta said. 

He cited the case of a child labour, who was rescued on May Day, from the home of a retired government official. 

“We informed the Labour Department a day before the rescue and requested them to join the operation. In return they said they were busy with May Day celebrations. This irresponsible behaviour is sad,” he added. 

Nithin says that lack of coordination between the medical department and the labour department also leads to offenders being set free.

“There is no coordination between the medical department, responsible for determining the minor's correct age, and the labour department. This has led to lack of evidence in most of the cases. The Labour department should be active enough to get evidence against the offenders but that does not happen in Telangana,” said Nithin. 

Another problem the activists cited is rehabilitation of the child labour victims. 

“Right now there are no proper rehabilitation centres for those children. The officials do not follow up on the children, whether they are safe or they have been sent back to work in factories. The government should provide proper rescue homes for these children and give them proper education,” Achyuta said. 

 

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