'Poor inter-departmental coordination hurdle in curbing child labour'

Kolkata, Sep 24 : The West Bengal labour department Tuesday expressed its helplessness in curbing child labour in the state due to lack of infrastructure and poor coordination among the concerned departments.

"Everyone blames the labour department for doing nothing to curb child labour. But one should understand our capabilities are limited. Moreover, lack of coordination between various departments only increases the complexities," deputy labour commissioner Sumita Mukherjee said at an interactive programme here.

Speaking at the release of a (Child Rights and You) CRY carried survey report on child labour in the "bidi" (a thin cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a "tendu" leaf tied with a string at one end)-making industry, Mukherjee pointed out legal loopholes as well as the problems faced in rehabilitation of rescued child labourers.

"Most families of rescued children plead to let them go for they would be deprived of a livelihood. Considering their economic status, it is not always possible to overlook their claims," said Mukherjee adding that a large number of the rescued children often get back to work within a short span of time.

Talking about the menace in the "bidi"-making industry, Mukherjee pointed out loopholes in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act and said: "Under the law, family business is not considered hazardous for children, and using that, most "bidi"-making enterprises operate as a family business which makes it difficult for us to prosecute them."

Mukherjee also blamed use of muscle power and political influence for the department's inability to curb the menace.

Her views found resonance with former deputy inspector general (CID) V.V. Thambi, who too pointed out political interference as a bottleneck in effective implementation of child welfare schemes.

"There are a plethora of welfare schemes but the desired results have not been achieved, only because of their ineffective implementation. This is happening because people entrusted with implementation at the lowest level are never allowed to speak," said Thambi, now an officer on special duty in the state home department.

--IANS (Posted on 24-09-2013)

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