Amendment will be introduced in Parliament soon: Kharge
The Union Government has decided to end all forms of child labour, and a comprehensive amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act banning the employment of children aged less than 14 will soon be introduced in Parliament.
The National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure a total ban on child labour irrespective of whether it was in hazardous or non-hazardous industries and that all children aged less than 14 were enrolled in schools.
Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said that the draft amendment to the Child Labour Prohibition and Abolition Act was being prepared. “We will try to movement the amendment in the next Parliament session,” he said.
Mr. Kharge said that at present child labour was banned in 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes. The Government now wanted to end child labour in all industries, whether hazardous or otherwise. On Friday, the Child Labour Advisory Committee, headed by Mr. Kharge, met in New Delhi and extended support to the move to ban all forms of child labour. Both the committee and NAC were of the opinion that parents of child labourers should not be punished. Only those who employed children should be targeted for penal action. Banning child labour would help bring down the number of children who were out of school.
He said that according to the latest survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), there are 49 lakh children under 14 employed in different occupations.
Mr. Kharge told a questioner that programmes launched by the Government such as the midday meal scheme in schools, subsidised foodgrain distribution through the public distribution system, 100 days guaranteed employment under the MGNREGA, the anganwadi scheme and the Right to Education Act had helped in bringing down the number of child labourers.
The number of child labourers had come down from 1.25 crore in 2001-02 to 90 lakh in 2004-05.
According to unofficial statistics available with the Government, the number of children in the 5 to 13 age group is more than 18 crore. Of them, 17 crore are in school. Only around 1.3 crore are out of school for various reasons, including child labour.