NATIONAL

‘Enforcement of child labour laws lacking’

A girl working at a chilli packaging unit in Nagpur.

A girl working at a chilli packaging unit in Nagpur.  

Time to act,says LabourSecretary

The continuing presence of child labour in the country is a reflection of the fact that implementation of the laws at the State and district levels has been lacking, a top official of the Union Labour and Employment Ministry said on Wednesday.

Though the number of children engaged in labour had come down to 10.1 million, or 1.01 crore, according to the 2011 Census, from 1.26 crore in the 2001 census, there was still a lot to be done to end the scourge, said Labour and Employment Secretary Heeralal Samariya at an event organised by the Ministry here on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour.

“We have the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, the PENCIL [Platform for Effective Enforcement of No Child Labour] portal, SOPs and guidelines have been formed,” Mr. Samariya observed. “Everything is in place, but if we still have child labour, it means that somewhere we are not implementing or enforcing at the field level... somewhere we are failing in enforcing the laws. It has to percolate down,” he asserted.

Noting that parents, even those from poorer backgrounds, were beginning to want their children to go to school, particularly private schools, the Secretary said this change in mindset needed to be “encashed”.

“It is the time to act. At the delivery point, the district and State level, they have a lot to do,” he said.

Speaking at the event, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director for India Dagmar Walter said India had ratified conventions prescribing minimum age for employment (14 years in developing countries) and employment in hazardous conditions (18 years).

Ms. Walter stressed the need for a targeted approach to combat the problem.“The last mile will always be the most difficult,” she said.

The PENCIL portal, through which 900 complaints about child labour had been lodged since it was started in 2017, was “evolving” with new features planned, said Kalpana Rajsinghot, joint secretary in the ministry.

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