They say act contradicts the right of every child to free and compulsory education
Child Rights Collective Gujarat,a consortium of NGOs working for the protection of child rights in the state,has demanded amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (CLPRA),1986. The Act allows children to work for a stipulated time in non-hazardous activity,bound by certain conditions.
The consortium will help the implementation of the state action plan,which is still in the draft stage.
According to the NGOs,the CLPRA,which allows children to work in occupations that are not part of the schedule of work considered harmful to children,contradicts the right of every child to free and compulsory education (as per Article 21(a) of the Constitution). The NGOs are also demanding that the age for work should be 18 years and more.
The Rights of the Child and Juvenile Justice Act (2006),which is inline with the United Nations Convention,defines a child as a person under18 years of age.
By allowing children to work after the age of 14 is to deny the fundamental right of education to them as per the Constitutional Amendment 21(a), said Sukhdev Patel,one of the members of the consortium.
Members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the UNICEF participated in the state convention on child rights. The consortium asked the commission to amend the CLPRA.
Gujarat,on the lines of the Central government,has charted out the State Action Plan 2010. As per this plan,we will eliminate child labour in Gujarat and provide the children the right to education, said RM Patel,Principal Secretary,state Labour Department.
When asked about the details on how government will implement it,Patel said: It is in the print and we cannot tell you till it is published.
Sources,however,said that earlier there was no co-ordination between the Labour department and various ministries like Education and Social Justice and Empowerment.
Merely rescuing children does not make a difference. Rehabilitation of children is equally important. This was not happening,as the ministries and departments were shy away from their responsibilities, sources said.
As per the 2001 census,4,85,530 children below 14 years of age are working in different sectors in the state including zari work,zardozi work,goldsmith shops,cloth market,domestic work,eateries and restaurants.
Agriculture sector has the maximum number of child labourers because of the CLPRA. Although the law defines conditions by which the farmers can employ children,they are never followed. The only way out is to amend the law, said Sukhdev Patel.