World anti-child labour day observed in state
But, for millions of children, it was business as usual. Toiling hard, under-fed, under-paid, they were forced to work to support their families.
Today children are employed in industries ranging from textiles and embroidery — and sometimes in more hazardous conditions like stone quarries and fire crackers factories inhaling toxic fumes and dealing with poisonous chemicals.
Apart from working in shops, restaurants, garages and as domestic help — they are increasingly found on the streets.
“Before we used to get Rs 30 per a day’s work now we are getting Rs 40 per day,” said a child labourer who collects Kendu leaves.
According to 1997 census, we have over 2 lakh child labourers in the state and have several government policies under state commission for protection of child rights.
Besides, there are provisions of free and compulsory education for children 6 to 14 years of age.
“The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach and developed an action plan to provide free food, free dress etc for the school of child labourers,” said Alekh Chandra Padhiary, Labour Commissioner, Government of Orissa,
Still this is not enough — what is required is a more holistic approach to deal with the issue on an ongoing basis. Poverty cannot be blamed time and again; as we need to develop the public education system more comprehensively — making sure that it reaches the children who need the most.