Despite the number of constitutional protections and laws on child labour that have been passed in India since its independence, the social evil continues to proliferate in cities, towns and villages across the country even today.
This especially holds true for the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, where the number of minors from underprivileged backgrounds who are entangled in the vicious cycle, was observed to be staggeringly high.
To put an end to this menace, the district administration teamed up with the labour department and the district unit of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), along with some non-profit organisations and began conducting extensive raids across various establishments in the district in February.
In a significant breakthrough, the authorities were able to successfully rescue as many as 150 children below the age of 14 in Vijayawada, out of which about 90 percent had dropped out of schools to support their impoverished families.
“Child labour is mostly seen in areas like Ajit Singh Nagar, Payakapuram, Nunna, Autonagar, Ibrahimpatnam and other suburban areas. Poverty, ill health of parents, and broken families are some of the factors that drive these kids to start working early on in their lives, and their priority is to earn the daily bread for their families,” D Anjaneya Reddy, the assistant commissioner of the labour department, said to The New Indian Express.
From Kalamkari textile shops and imitation jewellery shops to mechanic workshops and hotels, the inspection teams raided every other establishment across the district and filed cases against the owners who continue to employ young children as workers in their shops.
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Booked under the Minimum Wages Act 1948, Shops and Establishment Act 1988 and the Child Labour Prohibition Act 1986, each of the offenders has been mandated to attend an Open Court session which will be held at the Sub-Collector’s office on March 28. “We have collected ₹3 lakh in the form of penalty from these employers,” the official added.
The district administration hopes to end the social evil of laboriously exploiting minors in Krishna by the end of March 2018, and is proceeding forward through a multifaceted approach with special drives being conducted in areas like Nuzvid, Vuyyuru, Gudivada, Machilipatnam, Pedana, Pamarru, Jaggaiahpet, and Nandigama.
The labour department is also doing its part by requesting the education department, social welfare committees, and NGOs in the region to strongly convince parents to send their children to schools.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)