A new survey on child labour in the Union Territory will be completed within the next four months, said G. Srinivas, Commissioner of Labour, on Thursday.

“We want to ensure child labour is completely eliminated here. To maintain independence, we have asked the Economic and Survey wing to do it. As Puducherry has a low school drop out rate, incidence of child labour is almost nil,” he said.

“Major shops and factories do not employ children as we have frequent inspections. We have stray cases from smaller roadside shops,” he added.

Migrant child labourers

Even as Minister of Labour P. Rajavelu quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in stating that the Union Territory has no child labour, it is not hard to find children ‘helping’ their parents, especially in road and construction work in the city.

These children are not accounted for because they belong to the floating migrant population. “Last year, we had only one case. Otherwise, most of the child labourers are from the migrant labourers,” said Vidyaa Ramkumar, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee. There are also cases of begging among children of the gypsy community,” she added.

At the programme organised by the Labour Department to observe the World Day against Child Labour on Thursday, Mr. Rajavelu said it is not enough for the government alone to step up efforts to combat child labour. He asked employers and the public to be aware of the ills and the punishment that employing child labourers can attract.

“There is an attitude that work must get done without bothering about who does it as long as it is cheap. Unless everyone cooperates, child labour cannot be eliminated,” he said.

“One hand cannot clap. All children must attend school and we must minimise drop outs,” he added.

K. Uthaman, director, Social Welfare Department, said people must also reflect on the conditions that force children to take up work.

The last survey by the department of labour in 2002 found 10 children in hazardous occupations and 27 children in non-hazardous occupations, apart from 166 in domestic work, 116 idle at home and 238 children who work as coolies in the Union Territory.

The Labour Department can be contacted by telephone at 0413-2277780 to report instances of child labour or complaints can be made in person at the Office of the Labour Officer (Welfare Schemes), Labour Department.

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