Cuttack, May 2: It’s been 18 months since a ban was imposed on engaging children as domestic help and as workers in restaurants or dhabas.
But, the ban remains on paper in Orissa.
Social activists believe the problem of child labour is a burgeoning one, especially due to lack of regulation and rehabilitation.
“Everyday children are engaged as ‘servants’ in hospitality sectors across Orissa. But, the government has not initiated any measure to even identify child labour in this category,” said Bikash Das, vice-president of the Committee for Legal Aid to Poor (CLAP).
The Orissa government, it seems, is in a quandary.
“Implementation of the ban, though imposed, has not been possible in the absence of information on child labour in domestic service and other hospitality sectors,” admitted a senior official in the labour department, who didn’t wish to be named.
It’s no wonder that the government, in an affidavit submitted to Orissa High Court recently, admitted that no survey has been conducted to identify child labour in elther domestic service and in hospitality sectors since the prohibition was clamped in October 2006.
“The exact number of children who are working is not available with the labour and employment department,” the government officer pleaded.
The affidavit was filed in response to a CLAP petition seeking direction to regulate the condition and working hours of children who are engaged in residential houses, hotels and other establishments and to rescue and rehabilitate them.
The government had moved the Union ministry of labour for allotment of funds for carrying out a survey to identify labourers in the domestic sector and for rehabilitation programmes for identified child labourers.
“After it receives the necessary instructions and funds from the Centre, the labour ministry will conduct the necessary survey,” the official maintained.