To understand the status of implementation and impact of recent amendments in Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (CLPRA) 2016 in Madhya Pradesh, the Campaign against Child Labour (CACL), Hifazat Network in collaboration with CRY – Child Rights and organised a state level consultation in Bhopal on Saturday.
Representatives from Police Department of Madhya Pradesh, Department of Labour Madhya Pradesh, Childline and various Civil Society Organisations participated in the one-day long consultation at Pastoral Centre of Bhopal.
The CLPRA 2016 bans all child labour upto the age of 14 years. However, it makes an exception where a child is permitted to work only to help family, in family enterprise or as a child artist after school hours or during vacations.
Also, the current list of hazardous and non-hazardous occupations and processes (derived from the Factories Act 1948) is seen to have been framed considering the risks and challenges of the working adults but not the adolescents, and hence needs a thorough relook.
Addressing the consultation, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Bhopal Jasmine Ali said “According to Census 2011, Madhya Pradesh in among top 5 states where highest number of child labourers was registered. However, we are committed to improve this ranking and make MP child labour free. The work plan to end child labour is in place now and targets have been fixed for every district. We are constantly trying to make, the operational issues less complicated and fixing responsibility of police to register the FIR is one among the steps taken in this direction”
Talking about ground realities related to child labour in the state, senior IPS officer, Dr GK Pathak said “We have law in place to curb child labour but there is a need to strengthen the implementation process. Especially, in rural Madhya Pradesh, there is a need to develop a system where every child not attending school even for a small span of time should be tracked. Most importantly, while, rescue efforts are essential but without proper rehabilitation we cannot ensure a safe and happy childhood”.
According to the Census 2011, MP recorded total 7,00,239 child labourers. As MP is among 5 states that contribute in over 50% of the working children country, it becomes really important to understand the implications of amended CLPRA in the state.
Sharing his views on the status of child labour, Programme Head, CRY (North), Subhendu Bhattacharya said, “India’s national target set in National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC) 2016 as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) clearly states that it will make all efforts to eliminate child labour by 2025. On the other hand according to census 2011, MP registered more than 7 lakh child labourers. The census also states that 60% child labour in the nation is concentrated in agriculture and allied sectors. Thus, in a state like MP where agriculture is the prime occupation it becomes really important to recognize and find solutions to curb child labour in agriculture as it is a huge challenge for children to balance work and education”.
“According to Sustainable Development Goals child labour should completely stop by 2025. It is a matter of concern how state government is going to do it when government does not even have exact numbers of child labourers”, shared State Convener of CACL, Rajeev Bhargava.
CACL members expressed that, the amendment in CLPRA Act 2016 fails to address its purported objective of prohibition of child labour from all occupations and processes. The legislation does not put family & family-based occupations, agriculture and allied sectors, sports & entertainment industry under the purview of the hazardous / non-hazardous list, legalising such work.
“The only way we can change the child labour scenario in MP is by working together to ensure children complete their formal education, so that they are not pushed to enter labour, and this cannot happen without total eradication of child labour from the country. The recent amendments in CLPRA needs a relook and we are ready to work with government and other stakeholders to find solutions and alternatives for the same,” Ashok Kumar, National Advocacy Convener at CACL, concluded.