Bageshree S.

There is a clear lack of political will to eliminate this evil

  • Child labour is rampant in construction sectors
  • "Children are most vulnerable to new forms of contract labour"

    Bangalore: The Karnataka Government's grand plans for eradication of child labour have remained just that.

    The State initiated the Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labour in 2001 with the ambitious vision of eradicating child labour by 2007. The 2003 Karnataka State Plan of Action for Children also had a child labour component. And while the Central legislation on classifying employment of children in domestic and hospitality sectors as "hazardous" came into effect on Monday, the State is, officially, already addressing child labour under existing legal provisions.

    Yet, the goals of these laudable initiatives remain elusive, and there is a clear lack of political will on the issue. Child labour is, in fact, rampant even in sectors such as construction or mining that were declared hazardous decades ago. With only months left for the 2007 deadline, the Action Plan on child labour is nowhere near its target. The official reason is lack of funding, but there is no clarity on how the State plans to implement the notification that came into effect on Monday.

    "We do not know the magnitude of the problem yet, we will come to know as the raids go on," he says. On rehabilitation, there are still only "proposals" not even on the drawing board as yet.

    "We will have the action plan ready in three or four weeks, as an adjunct to the existing Action Plan," promises he said. NGOs and trade union leaders say that the growth in the number of child workers is driven by the new economy. Children are most vulnerable to new forms of contract labour without any social security.