Yogesh Dubey listens to a child worker’s problems in Dhanbad on Thursday. Picture by Gautam Dey
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has pulled up the Dhanbad district administration for failing to curb child labour and has vowed to protect the interests of minors.
After hearing out some 110 cases of child labour during a public hearing at Dhanbad indoor stadium on Thursday, NCPCR member Yogesh Dubey expressed his unhappiness over the district’s failure to implement directives to ensure that minors are not employed in hazardous working conditions.
“A comprehensive plan is required to address the issue of child labour in the district with specific focus in Jharia and surrounding areas where illegal coal trade is rampant. Identification of child labourers in different industries could be the first step in this direction,” Dubey said.
All aspects like the rescued children’s rehabilitation and their welfare will have to be looked into account while drawing up a proper action plan to monitor and ensure that the rights of the children are protected, he added.
A 14-year-old boy Mukesh told Dubey, “For acquiring cheap labour, the contractors employ children in the mines. We are three brothers, all engaged in coal picking work. We want to study but do not have money and don’t know whom to approach.”
Dubey assured the boy all help. He then described the current situation as alarming.
He pointed out that children engaged in coal crushing units in Dhanbad was an open fact but the district administration had no record of child labour in the district.
“A meeting in this regard will be held in the district collectorate tomorrow with the concerned departmental heads of the district administration,” Dubey said.
During the hearing, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Sanjay Mishra, member of NGO Plan India Arghav Mukherjee, district education officer Dhamadeo Rai, welfare officer Bandhu Fernandez, civil surgeon Arun Kumar Sinha and DSP Rajkumar Sinha were also present.
All the participants called for complete elimination of child labour from the region and strict implementation of Right to Education Act.