“Elimination of child labour is an article of faith to us”
The Centre is committed to protecting the welfare of children, Union Minister for Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge said here on Sunday. “Elimination of child labour is an article of faith and commitment to us,” he asserted.
He was happy to point out that there had been a sharp decline in the number of children in the age group of 5-14 “who are economically active.” From 90 lakh in 2004-2005, it had slumped to about 49 lakh in 2009.
“Our Constitution provides for the protection of children. India is the only developing country to ensure free education for all those in the age group of 6-14 under the Right to Education Act for which it is spending a huge amount.” This was the dream of the first Prime Minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru. “The National Child Labour Project schools won't be necessary hereafter as all those in this age group will have to be provided education.”
He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of the National Children's Yatra on Environment Protection and Climate Change organised by the Children's Movement for Climate Justice. Children from five States took part.
The Minister said the Central government was planning to bring about a major amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act, 1986, according to which all those below 14 years of age could not be employed in any industry. So far, they had been prohibited from being employed only in hazardous industries,
Besides, even those in the age group of 14-18 would not be employed in the hazardous industries.
“This would be a major step to be carried out shortly,” he added.
He appealed to all sections of society, especially the non-governmental organisations and the parents, to support the government in its efforts for eliminating child labour.
Mr. Kharge also pointed out that the government was very much aware of the problems emanating from the onslaught on natural resources by various forces, especially industry and vehicles and the compressed natural gas being made mandatory in Delhi for vehicles was a definite response to that.
As a signatory to various conventions on environment protection, the Central government was determined to protect and preserve it, he added.
Memorandum seeks strong initiatives
The memorandum submitted by the children, who took part in the yatra, demanded among other things safety of the families living in the coastal areas, strong initiatives towards resolving environmental issues, immediate attention to prevent environmental pollution, stringent enforcement of Biodiversity Act of 2002, Forest Protection Act of 1980 and Wildlife Protection act of 1972, assessing the opinion of the local people before planning for mega projects, impetus to renewable energy to prevent pollution from fossil fuels and adequate sanctioning of funds by both the Central and the State governments to promote children involve themselves in afforestation activities.
“Plan to amend Child Labour Act and ban children under 14 years being employed in any industry”
Union Minister for Labour says Centre is aware of industry's impact on natural resources