Union Minister of Labour & Employment shri Mallikarun Khage has called for furthering the steps to seek a safe future of children in the country. Shri Kharge was chairing the 1st meeting of the constituted Central Advisory Board on “Child Labour” here in New Delhi today. Following is the text of ministers’ speech:
“I warmly welcome the distinguished members of this newly constituted Central Advisory Board on “Child Labour”. I wish all the members of the Board a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Our Ministry of Labour & Employment has the important mandate to implement Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 employment of children below the age of 14 years is prohibited in 18 occupations and 65 processes. Some of the important prohibited occupations and processes are Abattoirs/Slaughter House, Automobiles, Handling of toxic or inflammable substances or explosives, Handloom and power loom industry, Mines (underground and under water) and collieries, Domestic workers or servants, Dhabas (roadside eateries), Diving, Circus and Caring of Elephants etc.
Child Labour is an area of great concern and Government of India is committed towards elimination of Child Labour in any form. In pursuance of the National Policy on Child Labour, the NCLP Scheme was started in 1988 to rehabilitate Child Labour. This is the major scheme for the rehabilitation of the child labour. Under the scheme, 271 districts were identified for implementation of the scheme and at present the scheme is operational in 266 districts in 20 States covering around 3.39 lakhs children through 7300 special schools. Under the Scheme, children withdrawn from work are admitted into special schools where they are provided with bridge education, vocational training, stipend of Rs. 150/-, Mid-Day Meal, health care, etc. Beside this the Ministry is also operating Grant in Aid Scheme for Child Labour. Under this Scheme, funds to the extent of 75% of the project cost, are released directly to the NGOs for elimination of the Child Labour in the districts where opening of NCLP School is not feasible.
Beside this funds to the tune of Rs. 21,000 crore have been allocated during current financial year for implementation of Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and about 19 crore children were covered. Under MGNREGA, the budget outlay for the current financial year is Rs.40,000 crore and in this financial year employment to 3.31 crore households was provided, so far. Last year 5.49 crore households benefitted. Under Mid Day Meal Scheme fund allocated during current financial year is Rs.10.380 crore. Children benefitted during 2010-11 were 10.46 crore. Under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme of Ministry of Women & Child Development, during current financial year, fund of Rs. 270 crore has been allocated and about 94,310 children were benefitted during 2010-11.
Due to all out efforts of Government of India, there is a decline in trend of economically active children in the age group of 5-14 years in India. As per NSSO survey 2004-05, there were 90.75 lakhs working children in India. This has come down to 49.84 lakhs as per NSSO 2009-10 survey which shows a decline by 45 percent.
To further strengthen the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986, the Ministry is contemplating Amendment in the existing Act which proposes complete ban on employment of Children upto 14 years of age. This has become essential due to the enactment of Right to Education Act, 2009, under which every child in the age group of 6-14 years is to be provided free and compulsory education. This issue was discussed recently in a meeting held on 11.1.2012 with all the State Secretaries and the representatives from Central Government Ministries, where almost all the participants were unanimous on the issue of complete ban on employment of Children upto the age of 14 years.
Children are the future of the country. We have not only to keep them safe, but also build them up as strong individuals. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul”. We are the custodians of that purity of the soul of our children. With this responsibility on our shoulders we must dedicate ourselves in this noble work.
Today’s meeting has been called mainly to discuss this important issue of Amendment of Child Labour Act., which would invariably be one of the most important steps taken by our country towards elimination of Child Labour. I wish that we engage in fruitful discussion today and I am confident that with your views we would be able to make the Child Labour Act an effective Act, setting the tone towards a brighter future for millions of our children.”
On this occasion a presentation entitled Child Labor was also made by the Joint Secretary in the M/o Labour & Emloyment Shri Anup Chandra Pandey. The presentation contains gist from the National Child Labour Policy, Legislative Provisions- Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation)Act 1986,The National Child Labour Project and major Activities under NCLP scheme, Issues for discussion regarding Amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, International Principles and Rights for children, ILO Convention 182-worst forms of Child Labour and the main hurdle in its ratification.
Most of the members advised for strict implementations of Laws prohibiting the exploitation of Child labourers, their schooling facilities, ensuring foolproof implementation of National Child Labour Project and stringent norms for the proposed amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986. Shri Kharge assured members that their suggestions will be taken care of in the future course of action.
The members participating in the meeting besides Labour & Employment Secretary Dr. M. Sarangi included S/shri Shishupal Singh –Vice Chairman, Manik Tagore-MP Lok Sabha, Shri Dhirendra Pratap Singh-Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Shri R.a. Mittal –Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Ms. Amarjeet Kaur-All India Trade Union Congress, Shri Mahantesh Patil, Shri B.P. Pant –FICCI, M.L. Dhawan, Laghu Udyog Sangh, Ms. Helen Seker-VVGNLI, Shri Aamod Kanth from Childline India and representatives from Planning Commission, M/o Rural Development, M/o Women & Child Development, M/o HRD and M/o Social Justice.
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