Not a single rupee has been used from the Child Labour Corpus Fund in the district towards children rescued from workplaces in the last eight years, as per information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Despite this, authorities observe International Day against Child Labour on June 12 every year with fanfare.
Based on information received from the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office in Mysore, P.P. Baburaj, advocate and Director of the People’s Legal Forum, said the total fund in the account at present was Rs. 3.14 lakh.
The corpus fund was established for rescued child labourers in the name of Deputy Commissioners in every district, as per the Supreme Court’s direction in the M.C. Mehta vs Government of Tamil Nadu case in 1996.
Mr. Baburaj – who is also a member of the Juvenile Justice Board, Mysore – said the Deputy Commissioner is the sole signatory of this account and on the basis of directions from the Supreme Court, the State government had issued circular to the DCs to use the funds for the education, welfare and follow-up of the rehabilitated children.
“The criteria to release the funds are that the children should have been rescued from hazardous employment, and they should be of school-going age. The RTI information, given by the Assistant Information Officer from the DC’s office says that there have been no applications from children to release the amount,” said Mr. Baburaj.Accumulated funds
The Child Labour Corpus Fund, set up in each district headquarters, has accumulated the fine amount levied on each erring employer, in addition to Rs. 5,000 from the State government towards each child’s case. Such funds accrued in the corpus fund are supposed to be invested in any high-yielding interest account in order to benefit the children.
The Deputy Commissioner has to deposit the money in the best interests of the children. “However officials never bother about child labour issues, except during anti-child labour programmes,” alleged Mr. Baburaj.
He pointed out that during between 2004 and 2014, a total of 48 cases of child labour were filed by the Department of Labour in Mysore district. Out of them, in 23 cases, employers were fined from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 15,000. In 24 cases, the employers were released while one is still in court, as per the RTI reply. “The situation in Mysore cannot be different from other districts of the country as there is no proper direction or monitoring of the Corpus Fund for Child Labour,” Mr. Baburaj added.