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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

UNICEF, Save The Children Fund team up to eliminate child labour

Unicef and Save the Children Fund (SCF), two of the largest child rights organisations, have teamed up to start a project that will focus on eliminating child labour and running intervention programme to educate children working in the cotton growing states of India, including Gujarat.
Besides Gujarat, the project will be initiated in Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

The two groups will also push for bringing amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (CLPRA), 1986, which allows children to work for a stipulated time in non-hazardous work, bound by certain conditions. However, they say that it contradicts the right of every child to free and compulsory education (as per 21(a) of the Constitution). The experts are demanding that the age for work is raised to 18 and above.

As per the 2001 census, there were 4, 85,530 children below 14 years of age who were working in different sectors in the state including zari work, zardozi work, jewellery, domestic work, and at cloth markets, eateries and restaurants. Besides this, the cotton growing regions also have children employed in large numbers.

UNICEF and SCF will start the project in Kutch and Vadodara and move on to Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, Sabarkantha and Bharuch in the second phase. “The focus is to eliminate child labour from the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat,” said Mohammed Aftab of SCF.

One the NGOs that will implement the intervention programme with UNICEF and SCF, said that children working in the agriculture sector are the most affected.

As per the government data, the maximum number of children are employed in the agriculture sector. Although the law defines the conditions under which farmers can employ children, these are never followed. The only way out is to amend the law,” said Sukhdev Patel of a partner NGO in Vadodara.

Gujarat has charted out the State Action Plan 2010 to eliminate child labour on the lines of the Central government.

“As per this plan, we will eliminate child labour in Gujarat and provide the children the right to education. We will take the help of some NGOs to execute this plan,” said RM Patel, Principal Secretary, state Labour Department.


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