Activists question Orissa Governments’ seriousness to stop child labour

November 14th, 2007 - 1:55 am ICT by admin  
The protestors belonged to an association of NGOs, and eminent persons from across the state came together under the banner of “Liberated Childhood Movement”. They said that the State Government had failed to implement strict laws that made child labour illegal.

“Eleven years back there was a Supreme Court judgement in M.C. Mehta case, the court said that children would be withdrawn from the employment sector, which also did not work even after eleven years. Therefore we have decided that there should be a local mobilisation against the child labour and the purpose is to internalise law in the societal order,” said Bikash Das, the chairperson of the association.

There are more than 12 million children under the age of fourteen years who are working in India according to the last census.

Many of these kids make their living by working in tea stalls, dhabas (road-side eateries), auto-repair shops, carpet-making units and other small factories.

The government has implemented various schemes and programmes for banning child labour and working towards the upliftment of these children, but a majority of them are still to be implemented.

Social activists participating in the rally expressed their ire at the non-implementation of these child labour schemes, saying it was high time these kids were given their due.

“We all know that there is a law banning child labour in our country but that law is restricted to books only. Political parties don’t want to implement it because children don’t vote and hence their vote bank is not affected. So we have decided to fight for them,” said Namrata Chadha, a social activist.

“There is no political party involved, but all the NGO’s, freedom fighters etc have come together and are appealing to everyone to at least think about these underprivileged kids for one hour in a day,” she added.

However, officials say the menace of child labour is so deep rooted that the government alone cannot work alone to eradicate it. It needs the help of voluntary organisations to wipe out the social evil.

“We are pressing on the point that the children should study at least till the age of eighteen years. If the NGO’s come forward, there will be social awareness, it’s not possible for the government alone to act,” said Jaynarayan Mishra, the state’s Labour and Employment Minister.

A ban in 2006 reinforced a 1986 law that forbids children from working in high-risk industries such as matchstick-making, which exposed them to hazardous fumes and chemicals.

The government says nearly 400,000 children have been stopped from working and “mainstreamed” into the formal education system since 1988 through special state schools that provide food, vocational training, stipends and healthcare. (ANI)

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