Govt will reconsider amendments in Child Labour Bill: Bandaru

New Delhi: Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya today said that government will reconsider the language of the proposed amendments in the Child Labour Amendment Bill especially in view of the demands made by the various stakeholders at the National consultation here.

“We will hold a meeting internally where we will discuss and look into the language of the proposed amendments of the Child Labour Amendment Bill,” said Dattatreya.

He stressed that law gets made once and therefore it should be in the best interest to protect the children.

The national consultation convened to discuss the proposed

amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 and Juvenile Justice Act have unanimously pointed out lacunae that can severely restrict the ability of child right organisations to rescue and protect children and called the proposed act “regressive” and “counter-productive”.

The consultation saw participation from 14 state commissions and several NGOs.

“In India BBA has been responsible for rescuing 3022 children below 14 years, between January 2010 to December 2014 with the help of government agencies, police and judiciary. None of these children could have been rescued if the present act was to become the law. Though I appreciate the principle of prohibition on all child labour upto the age of 14 and employment in hazardous occupations upto 18 years, I suspect that with the serious grey areas, we will fail to abolish child labour through this proposed law,” said Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

“First the proposed law, allowed children below 14 to work with family enterprise. Secondly, the list of hazardous occupations and processes has been brought down from 83 to 3 (mines, inflammable substances and explosives and hazardous processes as per Factories Act 1948 which means all these would allow children to work in the various industries which are largely run in families like carpet industry, embroidery and agriculture,” Satyarthi said.

“If the CLPRA Bill is ratified with these contentious provisions, it will be more regressive than the existing Regulations on the issue and will deprive protection and access to quality education for children,” he said quoting the Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s (BBA) annual report “Employment of Children in Hazardous and Family run Business” which was released at the national consultation here.
As per the report BBA has rescued 5254 child labourers

between January 2010 to December 2014 out of which 3022 were below 14 years while 2231 were in the age group of 14-17 years.

21 per cent of the children below 14 years were found to be working with their parents and relatives whereas 19 per cent of children in the age group of 14-17 years were found to be working with parents and relatives.

The data also showed while almost 1/5th of the total children rescued were working with their families, almost 82 per cent of the children were rescued from establishments operating in residential areas.

“This suggests that a change in law that permits employment of children in home based work may continue to support trafficking of children for forced labour since most manufacturing units operating out of residential areas could claim to be family enterprises,” said Satyarthi.

Data on prosecution of offenders further underline the hazardous nature of work in which very young children are employed. Almost 21 per cent of all the rescued child labourers below 14 years–who were brought to work by parents and relatives–were declared bonded labourers.

Also, garment (zari), jute, plastic, rexin, cloth and footwear, bags, industries employ almost 50 per cent children, stated the report.

BBA has recommended that Child labour should be clearly defined in law as per the definition given by the Delhi High Court in BBA’s case and extended for the entire country.

It also demanded removal of section 3 in the proposed Bill to prevent any abuse of law in the name of family, family enterprise or home based work and that list of hazardous occupation and processes should be expanded or least kept as it is.