The Rajasthan government, in a significant decision, has recognised the age of child labourers as 18 years and announced a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Identification, Rescue, Protection and Rehabilitation for children employed in different occupations.Besides the local children, a large number of child labourers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi and West Bengal are working under difficult circumstances in Rajasthan.
The State’s Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued a notification on August 21 clarifying the subject of Child Labour will henceforth be dealt with under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and laying down an SOP for all departments concerned for handling the issue of child labour.Moreover, the children who are involved in beggary would be identified by the NGOs and they will be admitted to residential schools, where the District Administration would make arrangements for food and accommodation for them.
In a far-reaching decision, the Rajasthan government has announced that a person below 18 years will be considered as a child labourer if he or she is employed.The Government’s six-page notification has made some important observations about the prevalence of labour by kids below 18 years. It says a large number of below-18 years children were employed in occupations like Gem Polishing, Carpet Manufacturing, Brick Kilns, Domestic Work, Begging, Bidi Industry, Mines, Agriculture, Tea Kiosks, Dhabas among others and a large number were being trafficked out of state for labour at Beet Cotton Fields, where they work as bonded labourers for 10 to 16 hours a day.
It said though the Child Labour Prohibition Act, 1986, is in force in state, it treats the work by children below 14 years in certain occupations as valid and does not facilitate rehabilitation of rescued kids. In this backdrop, the notification has held the Juvenile Justice Act, which defines a child’s age as 18 years, as the basis for taking action against child labour.
The notification has directed the labour department to conduct raids with the help of police to rescue child labourers above 14 years of age. The children will be brought before the child welfare committee and a fine of Rs. 20,000 will be imposed on the employer. The state government will contribute Rs. 5,000 for each child in the child labour welfare fund, which would be spent on his or her rehabilitation.Both chief secretary CK Mathew and additional CS Aditi Mehta of Social Justice Empowerment have signed the notification.
Photo Courtesy : GMB AKASH
Contributed By : R S Dhakar