Mumbai

State high on child labour list, but has many rescued kids

Maharashtra has the dubious distinction of being one of the States reporting the maximum number of child labour cases, latest data from the Ministry of Labour and Employment has revealed.

The ministry recently put out data for the last three years showing the State in second place with 8,122 cases of child labour in 2018 as opposed to West Bengal, which reported 17,137 cases. Among other big States with a high prevalence of child labour, Uttar Pradesh is third on the list with 8,020 cases, while Madhya Pradesh has 4,910 cases. Many rescued children have been rehabilitated under the Central government’s National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme, which has been helping rescue and rehabilitate child labour, officials said.

The data showed the number of children rescued and rehabilitated in Maharashtra has been steadily rising with 1,692 cases reported in 2016, 5,250 in the next year and 8,020 in the year after that. Uttar Pradesh has also seen a drastic jump in numbers from 3,066 in 2016 to 8,020 cases reported in 2018.

However, child rights activists raised serious doubts about the numbers for Maharashtra, claiming these are highly exaggerated.

Santosh Shinde, child rights activist and member of the State Child Welfare Committee, said, “I have my doubts regarding the number of rescue operations carried out in Maharashtra. We believe there was not a single rescue operation performed in the State in the past year. If these many children are freed, their rehabilitation should be visible. What are the measures taken for the welfare of these children and why were these cases never brought to the knowledge of the Child Welfare Committee?” he asked.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has been implementing the NCLP Scheme for the rehabilitation of child labourers. Under the NCLP, children in the age group of nine to 14 are rescued or withdrawn from work and enrolled in the NCLP Special Training Centres, where they are provided with bridge education, vocational training, mid-day meals, stipends and healthcare before being absorbed into the formal education system. Children in the age group of five to eight are directly linked to the formal education system in close coordination with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

A State government official said reporting of child labour cases has improved because the machinery has become active ever since the legislative framework was strengthened through an amendment to the Child Labour Act. This was followed by framing of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017, which specify duties and responsibilities of States clearly. “This has ensured district authorities effectively enforce provisions of the Act. The government has also devised a standard operating procedure for this,” the official said.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 12:25:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/state-high-on-child-labour-list-but-has-many-rescued-kids/article30995253.ece

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