Expressing fear that a large number of children from MP’s border districts may be forced into child labour in the neighbouring states due to
Covid-induced unemployment and economic downturn, Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) has urged the state government to take urgent steps to deal with the situation.
Commission member Brajesh Chauhan has written a letter to labour department principal secretary to call a virtual meeting on the issue.
The letter states that a large number of migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh have returned to their homes in districts like Jhabua, Alirajpur and Dhar (bordering Gujarat), Khargone, Barwani, Betul, Chhindwara, Balaghat (bordering Maharashtra) and Rajgarh, Guna and Ashoknagar (bordering Rajasthan). They were working at construction sites and other industries in big cities of these states but had to return due to closure of industrial units.
The migrants are now searching for employment and in such situation there is possibility that in desperation, they may push their children into child labour. According to Chauhan, the Commission has received information through NGOs and media that children are being taken from border districts to neighbouring states to work in industrial and commercial units.
“We have received five to ten complaints during Unlock-3 so far. The number of complaints is not large but the number of children involved is. In Khargone, 125 children were rescued from a van. They were being taken for work but where is yet not clear,” Chauhan told Free Press.
The Commission wants labour department to organise a virtual meeting attended by the district collectors, SPs and representatives of stakeholders like Child Line, Child Welfare Committees, NGOs and field staff of labour department. He said that only local officials can curb the migration of child labourers.
He said that it is important to ensure that the children do not fall into the hands of unscrupulous contractors and factory owners who may exploit and abuse them. “These children need and deserve all protection and help,” he said.