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Schemes fail to address plight of child labourers

August 27, 2011

Sheer ignorance:  Child rehab and protection packages in place, but do not function properly

Ushinor Majumdar

Ranchi: As 12-year-old Raju Munda of Anandhir village in Oramanjhi lifted plates off a table in a dhaba to wash them at 1AM on Friday, later that day, civil society members and government met to discuss the issues that lead to child labour.

Child labourers in dhabas strewn all along the highways in Jharkhand stay awake till the wee hours of the morning cleaning up after truckers and bus passengers, while the state runs a model project under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) with International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Ranchi and Sahibgunj districts.

The model projects are a convergence scheme which rehabilitates rescued child labourers as well as their families  to address the larger issue.

Aradhana Pattnaik said, “School dropouts are not the only ones who transition to becoming child labourers. Mostly, it is children who need to work to support their family, augmenting its income or when they have non-earning family members.”

The ILO-NCLP project is trying to train the parents and family members as well by training them in sewing and other vocations. Older children in the family are also given vocational training under the ILO-NCLP project. Disabled and old people are given pensions. As yet, the project has received a good response and showed good results, as per Pattnaik.

There are supposed to be similar NCLP projects in 9 districts of Jharkhand.

Rajini Devi a social worker in Hazaribagh district says, “The NCLP schools are defunct down in Hazaribagh.”

Ram Lal Prasad, a social worker with Jan Sewa Parishad – Hazaribagh, echoes Rajini and adds, “The government is not enforcing laws that have been enacted.”

“The state has to first provide for rehabilitation before they rescue children,” he added.

Though Jharkhand has distributed one lakh cycles and will distribute another lakh by next month, children cannot reach school due to lack of roads, long distances where roads are available and lack of rain-protection gear during monsoon, which sees the state capital’s streets empty of cars and pedestrians.

Pattnaik assures that umbrellas will be distributed.

Pattnaik admits that there are no trained trauma-counsellors or mental health workers to work on the adverse psychological effects on rescued child labourers who are currently in rehabilitation. Child welfare committee (CWC) workers in various districts agree.

The CWC and juvenile justice board (JJB) are bodies set up under the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 for children “in need of care and protection” and children “in conflict with the law” respectively.

There are no CWC homes run by the state in Ramgarh and Hazaribagh. Despite the many NGOs operating in these areas, there are also no private-run and funded organisations that are registered with the CWC. As per Rajini, “These children are sent to the remand homes and probation homes.”

According to the law, if a private-run organisation is registered with the CWC, then the state is liable to pay them a sum per child per month and the CWC can refer children in need of care and protection to these homes for shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, schooling and so on.

According to advocate and member of CWC in Hazaribagh, Yogendra Prasad, Ramgarh and Hazaribagh districts do not even have offices for the CWC and they are forced to meet in places allowed by other people and sometimes even in parks.


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