Guwahati, Sept. 10: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a detailed report from the Meghalaya government on 222 children who have been identified as working in the coal mines of Jaintia Hills district.
The state has been asked to ensure their appearance before the child welfare committee, identification of their parents and their rehabilitation.
Concerned over the problem of child labour in the coal mines and repeated failure of the government to reply to its earlier notices, the commission has also asked Meghalaya’s labour department to undertake mapping of vulnerable areas where child labour is rampant.
The home department has been asked to carry out mapping of areas prone to child trafficking.
The directions have been given in the report of field visits by a three-member team of the commission to coal rich areas in Jaintia Hills in May. The final report was made public recently.
The NCPCR was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 to ensure implementation of the child rights laws and norms.
The team comprising Yogesh Dube, Vinod Kumar Tikoo (members) and senior consultant Ramanath Nayak made field visits between May 17 to 22. This followed the Meghalaya government’s failure to provide “tangible response” to the commission on the recommendations it had made — during the last three visits to the coal mine areas in August 2009, January 2011 and October 2011 — regarding child rights violations and child labour.
The commission has asked the Meghalaya labour department to furnish details of the 222 child labourers identified in the 2010 survey and apprise it of actions initiated against the errant employers. It also rejected the department’s observation that some child labourers are missing and that migrant child labourers may have returned home.
The labour department had informed the visiting team in May that of the 222 children working in the coal mines, 67 were migrants and “might have gone back home”, 11 are not traceable because of incorrect addresses. It said 80 had been enrolled in schools, three got married and one had joined college.
The report, however, did not mention anything about the rest of the children.
“The uncertain contention that some might have gone back was not acceptable to the commission. The department should strengthen the district-level task force on child labour to monitor identification of child labour, pre-rescue planning, rescue operation, interim care, repatriation, rehabilitation and social reintegration and follow up and prosecution of employers or violators under all relevant laws. The minutes of the task force shall be sent to the commission regularly,” the report said.
The team expressed displeasure over the action taken by government departments and it found children still working in hazardous conditions in coal depots.