As the world observes the World Day against Child Labour on Saturday, the efforts to eliminate the scourge in Karnataka appear to be prolonged with the State Government extending the deadline to make Karnataka child labour-free to 2012.
The programme, launched in 2001 during Chief Minister S.M. Krishna's regime, was to achieve the target by 2007, but the authorities have been forced to stretch the goal by another five years to 2012, pointed out a Labour Department official.
The World Day against Child Labour comes even as thousands of children under the age of 14 toil away in hotels, eateries, automobile repair shops, homes and on the roads, according to a representative of a voluntary organisation.
A 1997 survey estimated there were about 40,529 child labourers in the State. However, in the light of a recent survey by the Education Department showing a decline in the number of school dropouts in the 6 to 14 years age group, Labour Department officials hope that the number of child labourers too has come down.
The State Resource Centre under the Department of Labour has prepared a Revised Action Plan to eliminate child labour. The main aim is to identify, through a survey of working children below the age of 14 years, both in hazardous and non-hazardous activities, secure their release and rehabilitate them.
Under the action plan, the State will establish special residential schools-cum-rehabilitation centres in all the districts, each with a capacity of at least 50 students.