10-yr plan aims to end all forms of child labourThe government is working on a new master plan, aiming at ending all forms of child labour within a decade.
The government is working on a new master plan, aiming at ending all forms of child labour within a decade.
The earlier government plan was prepared with an aim to end worst forms of child labour by 2016 and all forms of child labour by 2020.
But stakeholders say the earlier master plan never took off, as a result the country missed the deadline.
“Can you believe the proposed master plan never took off even after working on it for five long years?” said Milan Dharel, a child rights expert.
“This clearly indicates two things—first, addressing the issues related to child labour is not a government priority and secondly, the government is not serious about eliminating the scourge.”
According to estimates, there are around 1.6 million child labourers in the country and 20 percent of them are involved in hazardous work.
Th number is expected to increase in the absence of concrete regulations and their strict implementation, according to the stakeholders.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act prohibits from employing the children below 14 years of age in any kind of labour and children below 18 years in hazardous work.
The Act states that persons found forcing children up to 16 years in labour could face a jail term up to one year and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000.
However, child rights defenders argue the law is too lenient. “On top of that, the implementation part is very poor,” they said. “Weak monitoring and implementation of the existing law has resulted in children, especially from poor background, getting into labour market where they are exploited.”
According to the Ministry of Labour Employment (MoLE), the master plan envisions, among other things, identifying child labour, setting a criteria for hazardous work, offering economic assistance and scholarships to the children of the poor.
The master plan also proposes rehabilitation programme for rescued child labourers and building cross-border network to combat children trafficking.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare will also work closely with the MoLE to end all forms of child labour. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Home Affairs will also assist.
Government officials say the proposed master plan will be developed on time this time as it is the only way to save children from getting exploited.
“We are in the last stage of completing the master plan. WE aim to make the master plan public next month,” said Udaya Yadav of the MoLE.