HYDERABAD: Child labour is one of the several issues that the authorities try to resolve all the time, but fail to find a permanent solution. Though the issue has always been a topic of major debates across various platforms, for the authorities, it remains a daunting task.
In an exclusive interview with this correspondent, Dr E. Gangadhar, joint commissioner of labour & director, state resource centre for eliminating of child and bonded labour, spoke about the challenges before the department in dealing with the issue in Hyderabad which has considerable migrated population on the eve of World Day Against Child Labour on Friday. Excerpts:
Who are classified as child labourers and why does this system exist?
A child below the age of 14, who is in any occupation, is considered as child labour. An adolescent falling under the age group of 15 to 18 years and involved in hazardous occupations is also regarded as child labour. The reasons for people to opt for child labour are, the wages are cheap, they can extract more working hours and more work. They can be mend easily.
What is the percentage of child labour in Hyderabad city? Has child labour percentage decreased after the new state was formed?
This city is considered as a hotspot for child labour. As per 2011 census, 3.37 lakh children are working in Telangana region, 50 percent of them are in agriculture sector. Other areas are brick kilns, construction sites, bangle and jewellery workshops, firecracker and agarbatti making, mechanic workshops, welding shops and rag picking. Another area is domestic help and babysitting. The incidents of child labour have decreased by 36 percent before the pandemic.
Does the Covid pandemic have any impact on child labour?
Yes, there has been huge impact on child labour during this 15-month period. It has come to our notice that child labour has increased to 30 to 35 percent during pandemic. Parents who lost their earnings due to Covid are forcing their children to work. Many children are begging on the street. This is a serious concern and we are working on this.
What would be your immediate action when you come to know that child labour is existing at a particular place?
As soon as we receive complaints from the public through child helpline 1098, our officers jump into action, raid that place along with enforcement drivers on regular intervals. Special drives are conducted in the month of January and July every year as ‘Operation Muskan’ and ‘Operation Smile’
What are the measures you are taking to curb child labour?
People should be educated and sensitised on this issue. They should consider it as a social evil. Moreover, a child is a child, consider him or her as your own child. Community participation plays a major role along with the department enforcements.
What are the challenges you face in making the city ‘zero child labour’ one?
Rapid migration, huge population, insensitivity of people towards the burning issue of child labour are some of the major causes of child labour. Many from elite classes in the city engage child labour and assume that they are providing better lies for them. However, they are destroying the precious lives and beautiful childhood of several children....