Special Correspondent

Government flayed for not surveying number of children in hotel, catering business

CHENNAI: Anti-child labour day was observed in Chennai on Monday with a renewed commitment towards enforcing the ban on employing children as domestic help or in the hotel and catering business.

Non-governmental organisations came down heavily on the State Government for not undertaking a complete survey of the number of children employed in the sectors banned since October last year.

Activists protesting outside the Memorial Hall here demanded that the State Government take up immediately a survey of street children employed in these two sectors and called for stricter enforcement.

Statewide campaign

The demonstration organised by Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) aimed at creating awareness about of the October ban and also highlighting the need for amending the law to include all children up to the age of 18. In order to advance this, CACL has undertaken to launch a 90-day Statewide campaign for the eradication of child labour as domestic workers, and in the hotel and catering industry.

Working along with other teachers' organisations, women and Dalit groups, NGOs and trade unions, CACL will attempt to identify children being employed and forward complaints to the District Collector and appropriate Labour department authorities. Questions were also raised about the validity of the State Government's figures on child labour the officials seemed to depend on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan statistics of over 25,000 child workers and all plans to eradicate child labour hinged on this estimate. sHowever, the 2001 census recorded 4,18,801 child labourers in Tamil Nadu, also considered a conservative figure.

Siluvai Vasthian, State convener, CACL, appealed to the State Government to enact a law for total prohibition of the employment of children under 18 years.