Friday, June 21, 2024
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NCPCR identifies 222 child workers in JH mines

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From CK Nayak

 New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has identified over 200 child labourers in the infamous coal mines of Jaintia Hills district of the State and sought details along with action taken report within next week.

The Commission was discontented over the ‘dismal’ condition of child labourers in the coal mines and asked the Meghalaya Government to take immediate action with intimation to the Centre.

The Commission also identified 222 children engaged as labourers in the coal mines areas and asked the State Government to ensure that they are streamed back to educational institutions.

Talking to The Shillong Times at the end of the tour, a member of the Commission, Dr Yogesh Dube, said that child labour was rampant in the coal mines in the district even though it is prohibited by law.

Dr Dube also emphasized that there should be a detailed survey and a record of all children in school and out of school must be maintained and it should also account for children who have migrated from villages to be engaged as labourers. Dr Dube also said that there are children from neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal, besides Meghalaya, who are employed in the rat-hole coal mines of the State. The children from foreign countries should be identified and send back to their country of origin while others should be shifted to shelter homes, he said.

The Commission has also directed the State Government to open one children’s home in Shillong and one in Jaintia Hills at the earliest. If needed, the Commission would again visit the area in future to take preventive steps, Dr Dube added.

“The visiting team was highly discontented over widespread prevalence of child labour in other sectors like hotels, restaurants and market places,” he said.

The Commission has also directed the State Government to ensure that all children in the age group of 3-6 are mainstreamed to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) facilities, while children between 6-14 years of age should effectively realize their Right to Education (RTE). “The children’s place is in school and not in hazardous coal mines,” he said.

Dr Dube in his directive also urged the State Government to ensure compliance of regulations of the Mines Act, protection of children and records keeping of mines about employees, including their age, name and complete information.

The Commission also urged the State police to ensure that the Anti-Human Trafficking Units and police stations are sensitized enough to keep watch on the free movement of labour contractors/agents and trafficking of children in the border and vulnerable areas.

Police department must look into the trafficking angle of child labour engaged in the coal mines areas, he said.

The Commission directed the police to operationalize the Joint Task Force with the bordering states and ensure repatriation of the migrant children to their States/countries of origin after rescue, booking of employers under relevant labour laws and recovery of Rs 20,000 from the erring employers. Police should also conduct surprise checks, he said.

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