NCPCR member visited area for investigation following reports from NGOs

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has detected large-scale child labour at brick kilns in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan and expressed surprise over the district administration’s indifference to the issue. Of the 300 brick kilns functioning in Bhilwara, only 45 are registered with the district administration.

NCPCR member and Working Committee on Child Labour in Mines chairman Yogesh Dube visited Bhilwara this past Wednesday and Thursday for investigation ofchild labour following reports received from some non-government organisations. On returning here from Bhilwara he said he had found “shocking figures” of children working at brick kilns during the current period of production.

Hundreds of children belonging to families of migrant labourers at the brick kilns were involved in the work along with the elders. Most of these labourers come to Bhilwara during the work season from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and a large number of them are tribals.

Dr. Dube said several brick kilns were functioning on agricultural land and also causing air pollution. There is no arrangement for registration of labourers hired by contractors, nor is there any provision of social security for thousands of workers. There are no rules governing inter-State migration of the work force.

Dr. Dube held a meeting with Prayas Centre for Labour Research & Action and other non-government organisations working for children in distress, and later met Bhilwara Collector Onkar Singh and other officers of departments such as Labour, Police, Women and Child Development, Health, Home, Education and Tribal Development to discuss the action for eradication of child labour.

Preliminary estimates reveal that nearly 4,300 children are working as labourers in the brick kiln industry in Bhilwara. Dr. Dube has asked the district administration to submit a report on the issue to NCPCR within 14 days and instructed the Labour Department to take urgent action and conduct raids to rescue child labourers.

In his meeting with the officers, Dr. Dube suggested construction of a hospital for migrants, cluster schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and hostels for children of pastoral communities to ensure rehabilitation of rescued child labourers. The Labour Department must carry out a fresh mapping of child labour and take stringent action to stop violation of laws, he said.

Besides, action should be taken to strengthen primary health centres, Anganwadi centres, Child Welfare Committees and Integrated Child Development Scheme, while the closed schools under the National Child Labour Project must be reopened, said Dr. Dube. Children should also be provided with vaccination and pulse polio drug facilities.

He noted that a child labour survey launched by the State, during which 188 inspections were carried out in a year, had found only 30 to 35 child labourers. “This was eyewash. The survey only revealed the negligence of government authorities towards their responsibility,” he said.

NCPCR has given Rajasthan two months for framing a comprehensive training manual for a child labour-free State and asked it to organise workshops to generate awareness at the district level. It has also asked the State to formulate an action plan for complete abolition of child labour and implementation of the right to education for every child.

Dr. Dube met State Additional Labour Commissioner Anjana Dikshit and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Deepak Kalra to discuss measures for improving the child labour scenario. NCPCR Working Committee on Child Labour in Mines member and Lok Samvad Sansthan secretary Kalyan Singh Kothari also met Dr. Dube.