Footwear industry in Agra thrives on child labour

December 23rd, 2007 - 8:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Brajesh Kumar Singh
Agra, Dec 22 (ANI): Despite laws banning child labour in India, children continue to work in footwear factories in Agra, one of the leading centres of footwear industry in the country.
The children are made to work in an environment filled with heat, stench and unhealthy settings.
They come from very poor families who send them to work in order to augment their meagre incomes.
For Ajay, working deftly with leather, future holds little promise as he slogs it out in a footwear factory to assist his father in making ends meet.
“I am doing it because I have no other alternative. I have a large family and my father is the only earning member. So to help him out, I have to work and assist him financially,” said Ajay.
With a faraway look in his eyes, 11-year-old Abhay working as a cutter, recounts his helplessness at the circumstances, which force him to work for sustenance.
“I also want to go to school and play with other kids but what to do?”, he said.
According to 2001 census around 12 million children under the age of fourteen years are made to work in India. Non-governmental organisations say that the number is much larger.
Indian laws ban child labour with the government having notified around 70 occupations and processes in high-risk industries where employing children below 14 years is a criminal offence.
The government is also running the National Child Labour Projects in child labour endemic states to bring the children released from work to the mainstream.
Labour officials say that child labour is a complex socio-economic problem needing a sequential approach.
“We do not have proper facility to rehabilitate these kids. We cannot bring them with us once they are freed. We take strict action against the employers. Legal action is taken against them and a recovery (fine) of 20, 000 Rupees is also imposed on them,” said S.P. Shukla, Deputy Labour Commissioner of Agra.
The government says nearly 400,000 children have been rehabilitated and helped to join the mainstream. They have been provided food, vocational training, stipends and healthcare. (ANI)

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