Already under the scanner for shoddy de-silting work and depriving the workforce of mandated safety gear, the private contractual agency deployed by the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has once again been caught on the wrong foot. This time for hiring minor children to clean nullahs and gutters in the twin-city. The matter came to light after the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Mira Bhayandar- Vasai Virar (MBVV) police led by Senior Police Inspector- Sampatrao Patil rescued five minor children from a de-silting site in the Vinay Nagar area of Mira Road.
The action followed in response to a complaint filed by local MNS leader-Haresh Sutar. “We reached the spot and found the children engaged in cleaning gutters. The supervisor and the contractor have been booked and the matter has been handed over to the Kashimira police for further investigations.” said Patil.
The person who supervised the work has been identified as- Ramesh Kale. Apart from slapping the recently amended sections of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, a case under the Juvenile Justice Act-2015 (Care And Protection of Children) and section 374 (unlawful compulsory labour) of the IPC has been registered against the supervisor and the contractor. However no arrests have been made so far.
The rescued children who were apparently employed because they can be paid less, have been sent to the welfare home for children in Bhiwandi, police said. Even if the children are employed by contractors, MBMC officials can be held responsible as they are the principal employers. Deputy civic chief- Dr. Sambhaji Panpatte who handles the sanitation wing was unavailable for his comments.
The MBMC spends crores of rupees every year for manual and mechanical excavation using JCB’s, Boat-Poclain and Hydraulic Earth Moving Machines for de-silting work. Around 400-odd contractual workers manually clear clogged drains and nullahs as a part of the pre-monsoon de-silting exercise.