The children, including girls, pursue studies in local government schools and work in the industry in summer

Scores of children below the age group of 14 are hired by the Kalamkari production units in Pedana as daily wage workers. The children, including girls, who are pursuing studies in local government schools and working in the industry in summer, contribute their mite to the family’s income.

“I get Rs. 40 a day for folding the Kalamkari clothes from 8 a.m to 6. p.m,” a worker and Class VII student J. Mounika told The Hindu. In her unit, she accompanies her brother Ajay Kumar, Class V and N. Veerabhadra Rao, who peddles the rickshaw loaded with Kalamkari clothes towards the water canal for washing. Ms. Mounika’s co-workers come from Pedana town and neighbouring village Kappaladoddi, a village hit by weavers’ suicides.

There are many children who work in the industry round the year just to contribute income to the family. No official data or study on the total workforce and child labour involved in the industry was available till date. In some circumstances, the children are even asked to work close to the colour preparation process that continuously generates heat from the stove.

The Hindu visited a few units at Brahmapuram and Pedana town, where the children below the permissible age group were found working. The child workers told that the unit owners pay a maximum wage of Rs. 50 for boys and Rs. 40 for girls a day. Many students who have turned seasonal workers ran away from the unit when they were being photographed.

“Kalamkari units also expect the child labourers to wash the clothes in the river Krishna near Srikakulam in scorching summer due to water problem,” reveals a Kalamkari production house owner.