The Ministry of Labour and Employment wants to rope in State governments to work alongside to tackle the menace of child labour.
Senior government sources said that the Ministry of Labour and Employment does not have the required mechanism to track and prevent child labour. “State governments and state-agencies are best suited to enforce laws preventing child labour as they have the infrastructure and enforcement agencies,” said a source, adding that the Ministry is also in talks with States on the issue.
It also wants to partner States and NGOs to create more awareness and information on laws against child labour as well as the Right to Education Act.
“States can go down to the grass roots level to educate and make people aware on child labour and Right to Education Act,” the source further noted, while noting that many NGOs are also working in the sector.
According to another source, the Ministry has also informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour about the issue and initiatives that it is trying to take.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has been undertaking a detailed examination of the national policy on child labour.
‘Pushing for accountability’
“We want accountability on what has been done to prevent child labour. We want numbers on cases of child labour,” said a member of the panel, noting that there is no data on cases of child labour.
The Parliamentary Panel is understood to have held discussions with the Ministry of Labour as well as a number of Central Ministries and NGOs on the issue.
The Ministry of Labour had informed the Lok Sabha on July 18 that 58,289 children were rescued and withdrawn from work, rehabilitated and mainstreamed under the National Child Labour Project Scheme in 2020-21. In 2021-22, similarly over 13,000 children were rescued and rehabilitated under the scheme.
The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits the engagement of children in all occupations and also prohibits the engagement of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes.