8.57 lakh children engaged in child labour in West Bengal

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Kolkata, Jun 11 (UNI) Altogether 8.57 lakh children are presently engaged in child labour in West Bengal, nine per cent of whom are employed in the extremely hazardous occupations of the manufacturing, mining and construction industries.

Addressing a press conference on the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour here today, Mr S N Haque, Principal Secretary, Department of Labour, Government of West Bengal, said, '' According to the 2001 Census, 69 per cent of the children are engaged in the agriculture and allied sectors, while 22 per cent are employed in the services sectors, not considered hazardous occupations under the Child Labour Prevention Act, 1986. '' However, nine per cent of the children are compelled to work in the manufacturing, mining and construction industries, which are included in the extremely hazardous occupations and processes according to the Act, Mr Haque informed.

He said the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), funded by the Centre and being executed by the state government, was working to create greater public awareness and sensitisation on the issue.

'' As many as 869 NCLP schools with each consisting of 50 child labourers rescued from hazardous occupations and processes have been established in every district of the state with the help of NGOs, '' he informed.

He also stated that the state Education department looked after the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programmes, launched by the Centre, while the Rural Development department took care of the poverty -alleviation drive under which financial assistance was being provided to the families, whose children were rescued from child labour and enrolled in schools.

Speaking on the social responsibility of the corporate sector, Mr Haque said, '' The entrepreneurial classes should assist the NCLP schools to augment their infrastructure by providing financial support as well as sponsor individual children and fund their education. '' State Programme Manager of 'Save the Children', an NGO, Manabendra Nath Ray said, '' The West Bengal chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), by partnering with our NGO, has exhibited its commitment to the cause of eradicating child labour and trafficking in the state. '' He said the partnership with the industry and government was the key to ensuring a sustainable model of stopping the menace and rehabilitating the children.

UNI DPM SJC RN1833

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