New Delhi: The Nobel Peace Prize to child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi may have put the spotlight on the issue of child labour, but his NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan says Delhi government is not serious about dealing with the “menace”, unlike many other states.
The NGO, which was set up by Satyarthi in 1980, said that as many as 238 rescued child labourers belonging to Delhi, many of whom were declared bonded labourers, are yet to be rehabilitated as per the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976.
“Under the Act, it is incumbent upon the authorities to ensure the rehabilitation of the rescued children by creating a rehabilitation-cum-welfare fund of Rs 25,000 of which Rs 20,000 shall be paid by the employer as a fine and the rest shall come from the state,” said BBA chairperson RS Chaurasia.
In a letter to the chairperson of the District Task Force on child labour in May, 2013, Rakesh Senger of BBA had said that there was a need to urgently take up the matter and rehabilitate all the rescued children.
“While the reply came from all the other state governments on the rehabilitation of rescued children, government departments in Delhi keep on dodging the matter and shirking responsibility by putting the onus on each other,” Senger said.
The labour department of Delhi government did not respond to BBA's criticism on the issue.
Senger said that Delhi government had conveyed to BBA that the child labourers and their families have changed their addresses in most of the cases, making them difficult to locate and rehabilitate.
Chaurasia said BBA had filed “an RTI application in this regard with the Department of Women and Child Development” which responded “citing a reply from the Child Welfare Committee that only the SDM of the areas concerned would have the status report” on the rehabilitation of rescued children.
The vigilance committees constituted for raid, rescue and rehabilitation of bonded child labourers—which are supposed to meet at regular intervals—are lying almost dysfunctional, he alleged.
“On May 24 this year, we wrote to all district magistrates in Delhi to constitute new vigilance committees at the earliest, but did not receive a single reply,” Chaurasia said.
Section 13 of Bonder Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, stipulates that every state government shall by notification in the official gazette, constitute such committees in each district and sub-division as it may think fit.
Satyarthi, 60, was on October 10 named for this year's Nobel Peace prize along with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. He has been working for child rights for over 30 years through BBA, the NGO which is credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers across India.