Rallies and administration of anti-child labour pledge marked the World Day Against Child Labour in the city on Wednesday. Collector Anshul Mishra inaugurated a signature campaign and administered the pledge at Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand.

Officials of the Department of Labour pasted anti-child labour stickers in buses, autorickshaws and eateries in Mattuthavani, Tamukkam and other places in the city where commercial establishments are concentrated.

An anti-child labour rally was organised by Ilango Corporation Higher Secondary School in which students from various schools participated. They carried placards bearing anti-child labour slogans. The rally started at the school and ended at Gandhi Memorial Museum. Madurai Corporation officials administered anti-labour pledge at a function held on their premises.

Boy rescued

The Labour Department officials conducted raids and rescued a 15-year-old boy from a welding unit in Puttuthoppu near Arapalayam Cross Road.

“It was found that the boy, owing to financial constraints of his parents, discontinued studies after completing Standard X. After assurance of financial support, he had agreed to continue his studies. We have asked the school authorities to admit him in Plus One,” said P.Subramanian, Assistant Commissioner of Labour.

What data says

However, data available with Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, reveal that children and youth from marginalised sections of landless peasants and casual labourers in rural Madurai, especially from Usilampatti region, are ensnared into bonded labour through persuasive means. Their report says snack-making units are the major employers of child labour. Children from Madurai are employed in these units which are spread in north and western parts of India. The employers also hail from Madurai.

There is a big network of brokers and employers, and school dropouts are targeted from Meikkizharpatti, Karithiveeranpatti, Kavandanpatti, Malaipatti, Vadugapatti, Boothipuram, Chokkathevanpatti, Vellaimalaipatti, Ayyanarkulam, Putthur, Nadupatti, Nattapatti, Sadachipatti, Pasukkaranpatti, A.Pudhupatti, Nalluthevanpatti, Muthaiyampatti, Kallapatti, Vagurani, V.Kamatchipuram, Kalloothu, K.Perumalpatti and K.Paraipatti.

Since there is good income from snack units, more and more people are entering this business in various States and hiring bonded labourers. Hence the government should take a serious view of this and take steps to prevent children from becoming bonded labourers, Deivendran, member, CACL, says.

Copper polishing, steel polishing and steel chair-making units at Jaihindpuram in Madurai employ child labour. Brick kilns in the suburbs and Saptur, Anaikaraipatti, Chinna Vandari and Periya Vandari too employ child labour.

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