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Combing operations planned to check child labour

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DEPRIVED CHILDHOOD: A child digging a cable trench in the city. - Photo: H. Vibhu
DEPRIVED CHILDHOOD: A child digging a cable trench in the city. - Photo: H. Vibhu

K.S. Sudhi

Ban imposed on child labour comes into force today

KOCHI: As the Labour Ministry-imposed ban on child labour comes into force on Tuesday, extensive combing operations are being planned in the State to make the ban order effective.

While enforcing the ban order, stress is also being laid on rehabilitating the child labourers who might be identified during the combing operations.

The Labour Ministry banned children under the age of 14 from working as domestic helps, in restaurants and hotels.

Any employment of children under 14 will invite imprisonment up to two years and a fine of Rs.20,000.

The ban is being introduced as child employees are often "subjected to physical violence, psychological trauma and, at times, even sexual abuse and the long hours of work also affected their health and psyche."

The country had earlier banned the employment of children in hazardous industries like the manufacturing of firecrackers and carpet making.

"The Labour Department has formed squads in all districts as part of implementing the ban order," said Prakash S. Oliver, State Additional Labour Commissioner.

The squads would be looking for instances of child labour in restaurants, hotels, commercial establishments and homes in the State. The support of trade unions was being sought to identify instances of children being employed in restaurants and hotels. The department would be banking on residents' associations to obtain information on children being employed as domestic help.

"A State-level monitoring cell has also been formed to keep track of the developments. Any information on child labour should be communicated to the following numbers: 98461 55163 and 94471 91288," he said.

According to indications, migrant children were being employed in the construction industry and hotels. There were also unconfirmed reports that some sawmills in the State were employing children.

Survey planned

The Labour Department, in association NGOs working in the sector, was planning to carry out extensive scientific survey of child labour in the State. It was nearly one-and-a-half years ago that a study was last carried out in the State by the Statistics Department. The last study was not carried out in a scientific way. Hence, the new study, said Mr. Oliver.

Each district in the State would get a Central support of Rs.2.75 lakh for carrying out the survey.

The rehabilitation of the children rescued from child labour would be implemented in association with the State Social Welfare Department and NGOs. A meeting of the NGOs working in the sector, residents' associations and officials concerned was convened recently to chart out an action plan in the State capital.

Meeting on Thursday

In Kochi, a meeting of the Assistant Labour Officers, who are responsible for the enforcement of the ban, would be convened on October 12, said Vincent Alex, District Labour Officer.

Any information on child labour in the district could be passed on to 2423110.

"Squads, along with the Childline workers, will be deployed in different parts of the district. The squads will cover brick kilns, sawmills and construction sites," said Mr. Alex.

In Kochi, children mostly from Tamil Nadu are being employed. Children from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka also reach the State, said Antony Panikkarukunnel of Don Bosco that is managing the Kochi Childline.

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