HYDERABAD: The status of children who would be accompanying their parents, all brick kiln workers migrating to various parts of the state, still lies undecided. While officials of Labour department claim that efforts to sensitise parents as well as employers about harmful effects of being exposed to brick kilns will soon begin, there is no concrete plan in place to create a safe space for the children yet. “As per our yearly plan, we will shortly conduct a meeting with various departments as the Labour Department has only enforcement powers. This time, we also plan to hold a meeting with employers and employer associations to find out how many people will be coming in the state,” informed a Labour department official.
Further, they are advising the employers to discourage parents from bringing their children, even up to the age of 18 years, as they are not supposed to be exposed to hazardous conditions as per the amendment in the Child Labour Act, 2016. All the employers are expected to fill in a proforma regarding the size of the establishment, the number of employees and also the children, in case they come in. “Till date, we have received around 15 applications as against 130 last year,” added the official.
However, the brick kiln owners and employers, though aware of these aspects, do not comply with the law and it is only when the department officials conduct routine checks that the reality comes out. “We do not have the manpower to keep a tab on this,” the official further said. Lack of preparedness has been going on for a while now, opined those who have been working for the children of migrant labourers.
By this time, the department should have had a plan in place regarding the safety of children, pointed out Suresh Gutta, from Aide Et Action, which has been working in this sector in Odisha and Telangana. “These children cannot be ‘rescued’ and there is no point of booking the owners or employers because they are accompanying their parents, and are not being brought in forcefully or trafficked,” he added.
200 children sent to schools this year
Around 200 children were ‘rescued’ from various brick kilns early this year by officials of various departments. In Rangareddy, Vikarabad and Medchal, which have been reported to have the highest number of brick kilns, 10 special schools were set up for the children in January, almost three months after they reached the state. While some of them were sent to learning centres set up at few sites, others were reintegrated into local government schools for four months