No Country for Labourers' Left Out Children - The New Indian Express

No Country for Labourers' Left Out Children

Published: 19th May 2014 09:30 AM

Last Updated: 19th May 2014 09:41 AM

BALANGIR:  Pitiable is the condition of children who are staying independently with their extended families in the district.

According to a study, while around 20,000 children migrate every year from the district, more than 3,000 left behind by their parents in the villages remain isolated and find it difficult to sustain themselves.

Balangir is noted to be a migration-prone district from where lakhs of people migrate every year in search of livelihood. While most of the children of the migrant labourers accompany their parents, some stay back in their villages.

The study revealed that the children, who stay back, lead a life of an orphan. With no support mechanism available in the villages, the children are forced to be engaged in various forms of child labour. The children living with their grandparents even shoulder the responsibility of sustaining the elderly. The ones residing with relatives perform household chores, graze cattle, collect fodder and other sundry jobs. While ill health is quite common among these children due to lack of care, they have hardly any money to consult doctors.

The study further states that such children are mostly found in migration-prone blocks like Bangomunda, Turekela, Muribahal, Titlagarh, Khaprakhol, Belpara and Patnagarh.

The life of an orphan for six months every year is taking a toll on these children’s health and growth. With parents away in some distant place, the children don the mantle of watchmen of their houses and are left to fend for themselves. 

These children are deprived of socio-psychological care, education and filial affection. Their rights are also blatantly violated. At a time when people from high income group groom their children by spending lavishly on every aspect of life, the children of migrant labourers are deprived of basic education and care. The condition of differently abled children is much worse. With parents away, these children lead a vegetative existence.

Social activist Srabantika Bhattacharya, who is working on the issue, said the plight of this section of children has been overlooked. This issue goes unnoticed by the researchers unlike the children who migrate with the labourers. Different aspects of living condition of these children need to be studied properly, added Bhattacharya.

Assistant Labour Commissioner Saroj Ranjit said the Government has opened seasonal hostels for these children in schools. The hostels remain open from January to June  every year to facilitate the children to continue with their studies in Government-run schools. Till now, 99 hostels have been opened in the district, he added.

However, Bhattacharya said the hostels opened in the district are insufficient and fail to cater to the need of the children. Moreover, only after 20 children are identified living independently in a village, a hostel is opened for them in the nearby Government school. But in many places, the number of such children is less than 20 and hence hostels are not provided. Besides, the district administration closes the hostels from March instead of June, the social activist added.

The study was conducted by Youth Centre for Development Alternatives (YCDA), a local organisation.

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