Berhampur: As many as 49 child workers, including 20 from Bihar, have been rescued from small-scale units in Ganjam and Gajapati districts of the State.

Twenty-two children, including 20 from Bihar, who were working in small manufacturing and sugarcane juice processing units in Berhampur were rescued during a raid by a district-level monitoring committee squad yesterday.

In a separate raid, 27 children were rescued from Paralakhemundi in Gajapati district yesterday, said Gajapati district child protection officer Arun Tripathy.

At Paralakhemundi, the child workers were rescued from 17 different locations, including hotels, restaurants, bars, wielding workshops and motor garages and they were in the age group of seven and 18 years, he said.

The squad, comprising the district labour officer (DLO), chairman of district child welfare committee (CWC), district child protection officer (DCPO), police and activists of ISRD-Childline, raided at least five small manufacturing and sugarcane processing units at Tulasi Nagara, Niladri Bihar and Somanath Nagara areas of Berhampur.

While two of the rescued children were from Ganjam, the others belonged to Darbhanga and Samastipur districts of Bihar.

Most of the children are illiterate or school drop-outs who have been working here for the past two to three years, added Prabhu Prasad Patra, ISRD-Childline coordinator.

"We found they were working in hazardous conditions in various localities," Ganjam district child protection officer Subodh Kumar Sarangi said.

"We will take steps for the prosecution of the owners of the units for engaging these children," said Berhampur district labour officer, Kalpana Mishra.

"We are trying to send the rescued children back to their home state through the CWC of their districts in Bihar," Sarangi said.

The State Convenor of the Campaign Against Child Labour, Sudhir Sabat, said, "We identified locations in Berhampur where child labourers were working. The list was submitted to the DLO."

The district-level coordination committee on the implementation of the action plan for the elimination of child labour in Ganjam, at its first meeting held in February last, had decided to make Berhampur the "first child labour-free" town in the district.