`Those found employing children for domestic work will face punishment'
1,728 industries had been declared "child labour free" in Hassan Special schools were opened in 2001 for rehabilitating them
HASSAN: As many as 2,275 child labourers have been identified in Hassan, Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Kodagu and Udupi districts, and 1,573 have been rehabilitated in special and mainstream schools, according to Jinkalappa, Deputy Labour Commissioner, Hassan division.
Speaking to The Hindu here on Monday he said the employment of children below 14 years for household chores and in dhabas, hotels, and roadside eateries would become punishable under the law from October 10.
Those found employing children for domestic work would face punishment. Such employers would have to pay fine of up to Rs. 10,000 and compensation amounting to Rs. 20,000 to a corpus fund formed under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner .
He said of the 456 child labourers identified in Hassan, 222 had been admitted to special schools opened for the purpose in the district and 35 children had been admitted to mainstream schools. However, the remaining 199 were dropped owing to various factors including age.
Two special schools were opened in 2001 for rehabilitating rescued child labourers and 27 children were studying in these schools.
The department was conducting periodical raids on establishments which were employing children.
Of the 216 children identified in Chikmagalur, 56 had been rehabilitated.
In Shimoga, of 1,412 children, 765 had been admitted to mainstream schools and 380 to special schools.
Of the 67 children identified in Kodagu district, 65 had been rehabilitated and in Udupi of the 121 identified, 71 had been admitted to mainstream schools, he said.
He said child labourers were being engaged as domestic helpers in Dakshina Kannada district and bakeries, tea stalls and hotels are engaging child labour in Hassan.
As many as 8,856 industries had been identified as hazardous in the region. He said 1,728 industries had been declared "child labour free" in Hassan as the employers had given an undertaking stating that they would not employ children labour, he added.
Mr. Jinkalappa said the introduction of the midday meal programme had helped attract children, who were working as labourers in various establishments, back to school.
The attendance of students had increased in the six districts. In Saidanahalli village of Arsikere taluk, children were refusing to go to school and preferred to work in the mines or fields.
However, with the introduction of the midday meal programme, all 35 children started attending the village school. When asked what the authorities' problem was in ensuring that the district was child labour free, he said uncertainty about the age of a child was a problem faced by the authorities.
However, the department had drafted the services of doctors to ascertain the exact age of children, he added.
Secretary, district unit Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sukumar, said they would rarely find child labourers in towns. Child labour had been eradicated in the plantation sector.
However, it was difficult to identify child labourers as parents forced children to go to work in many cases, he added.