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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 2:24 AM; last updated: Jun 13, 2018, 2:24 AM (IST)

Child labour goes unchecked in Dera Bassi

Child labour goes unchecked in Dera Bassi
A child works at an eatery in Dera Bassi. Photo by writer

Satinder Pal Singh

Dera Bassi, June 12

Several children are put to work in ways that drain their childhood and crush their right to normal physical and mental development.

Despite several laws and programmes, the practice of child labour continues unabated in Dera Bassi. Children, who should be going to school, are breadwinners for their families.

Eleven-year-old's Mehtab (name changed) day starts at 7 am and he works till evening at a dhaba. He is called as "chottu". Mehtab is among hundreds of children in Dera Bassi who are involved in labour at an age when they should be in school.

Much-hyped days such as June 12 -World Day against Child Labour - hold no meaning for children like them.

A majority of the children working in factories and dhabas are living a life comprised of three things - long hours, low pay and hope of climbing up a severely unregulated employment ladder guided only by the whims of their owners.

Rishu is also among hundreds of children who help their families make ends meet by spending their day by hacking pieces of bricks.

His ordeal began in 2013 when, as seven-year-old, he came to the city with his uncle. 

While Rishu's financial problems are driving him to work at his early age. Like him, many children are dropouts and have started earning due to various constraints.

The childhood of all these innocent kids has been lost while working in most inhuman and excruciating conditions since they have no other option but to supporting their family to make both ends meet.

There are several children under 15 years of age who can be seen working at construction sites, hotels and restaurants. 

The Child Labour Act, which bans the employment of child below the age 14 years, seems to have lost its relevance in the city as many children work in many establishments in filthy and hazardous conditions.

Not only the local administration has failed to rescue the fundamental rights of the children, but NGOs and others private bodies, who claim to be the champion for the cause of the child rights, have actually done very little at the grassroots level. 

When contacted, Paramjit Singh, SDM, Dera Bassi, agreed that there was a lot to do to tackle the child labour menace, adding that he would take up the matter with the labour department and see what can be done in this regard.

On being asked that the ban on child labour seems to be on papers only, the SDM said they had decided to strictly enforce the provisions under the existing laws.

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