Child labour rife in absence of strict lawFive years ago, the government had announced to come up with a master plan to end child labour in the country.
Five years ago, the government had announced to come up with a master plan to end child labour in the country.
The goal was to end worst forms of child labour by 2016 and all its other forms by 2020. The proposed master plan never took off.
There are 1.6 million child labour in the country out of which around 20 percent are involved in hazardous work. Their number is expected to increase in absence of a concrete regulations and their strict implementation.
“A master plan with a specific date to get rid of the social harmful practice would have helped solve the problem of child labour. Unless the government comes up with a specific plan to curb it, the problem of child labour will continue to grow,” warns Milan Dharel, an expert on children’s rights.
The country has Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act which prohibits employing the children below 14 years in any kind of labour and children below 18 years in hazardous works. 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.
Children rights defenders say the law is too lenient and sadder than it is that it is not even implemented.
Weak monitoring and implementation of the existing law has resulted in children, especially from poor background, getting into labour market and being exploited.
The ambitious master plan had envisioned, among other things, identifying child labour, setting a criteria for hazardous work, offering economic assistance and scholarship to the children of the poor. It had also proposed rehabilitation programme for rescued child labourers
and a building cross-border network to combat children trafficking.
Government officials say the proposed master plan will be developed as it is the only way to protect over a million and increasing number of children who are being forced into labour.
“We were unable to come up with the master plan so far because we got sidetracked by the constitution writing process and other national issues,” said Udaya Gupta at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
He assured that the master plan will be developed and until then, the concerned authorities should try to fight child labour by enforcing the existing law.