HYDERABAD: Telangana always gets top honours for ensuring a perfect ambience for Ease of Doing Business (EODB). It stood in second place in the country this year and topped the list last year. But at what cost?
It could be because the labour department is going easy in its fight against child labour as inspections by officials at the construction site would annoy the entrepreneur.
One gets this doubt going by the number of inspections carried out to identify child labour by the labour department fell from 702 inspections in 2017 to merely 244 in 2018. As a result, the number of children rescued also dipped from 960 to 235 between 2017 and 2018. What’s worse? The number of violations found were 121 which led to convictions in a mere 22 cases.
These numbers are striking as data available from the last 7 years show 2018 to have the least number of inspections by the labour department.
Experts suspect that this steep fall could be due to reforms in EoDB. According to them, even running of a business has become easier now than before, but it is causing an impediment for the labour department from holding regular checks and inspections on business establishments. This especially impacts child labour.
As per EoDB rules, a labour inspector cannot visit an establishment for consecutive terms and must change every term.
As per labour laws, every establishment is divided into low, medium and high-risk categories. They require inspections every 5, 3 and 2 years respectively. These inspections are also scheduled in advance and surprise visits are not encouraged.
An establishment cannot be inspected by the same inspector consecutively. Apart from this, the process is cumbersome as there are only 300 odd labour inspectors to take care of 1,200 establishments individually, sources said.
“So now the only way a brick kiln which is hazardous comes under the radar of the government is when it has a bi-annual inspection scheduled or when a good samaritan tips off the officials,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
“We are undertaking these inspections primarily based on complaints. Now as we are converging with the police with Operation Muskaan and Smile, we are dedicating 2 months just to detect child labour. We are seeing a better response as police seem to have a higher deterrence factor than a labour inspector in plain clothes,” Dr Gangadhar E, Joint Commissioner for Labour Department, said.