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Tiruchi district to be declared child labour-free in hazardous industries

M. Balaganessin

TIRUCHI: In a significant development, `hazardous industries' have extended an olive branch to officialdom towards realising the objective of eradicating child labour in Tiruchi district.

The authorities are hopeful of declaring the district `child-labour free in hazardous industries' before the end of this year, the deadline fixed by the Centre, and `totally child-labour free' by 2007, when non-hazardous industries will also be brought under the purview of the initiative.

Since the start of this year, hazardous industries, particularly tanneries, cigar rolling units and brick kilns, have exercised restraint in employing children. This is in deference to a plea from a high-level committee headed by Collector M. Nanda Kishore to enrol child labourers in schools under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme being implemented by the Education Department.

Voluntary compliance by hazardous units followed sustained intervention by the Anti-Child Labour Committee, surprise raids, implementation of SSA, and commencement of special schools under National Child Labour Project.

High-level committees were constituted in all districts after the State Government issued a diktat to Collectors to identify child labourers employed in hazardous units and enrol them in schools by 2005. The committee comprises officials representing the departments of Police, Labour Welfare, Factories, Education, and Rural Development.

The Deputy Chief Inspector of Factories, who is the Member-Secretary of the Committee, has already recommended to the Collector, the ex-officio Chairman, to declare the district as `child-labour free' in hazardous industries.

To crosscheck data compiled by the committee, a `monitoring panel' has been constituted. This committee, also headed by the Collector, comprises the Superintendent of Police, Chief Educational Officer, and Project Officer of District Rural Development Agency as members.

The monitoring committee is entrusted with the task of making spot visits to registered and unregistered hazardous units.

According to the SSA survey last year, Mannachanallur accounted for the largest number of 145 child labourers in hazardous units, followed by Lalgudi (57), Manikandam (43), Uppliyapuram (23), Thatheingarpet (13), and Thuraiyur (9). Most of these child labourers have since been enrolled.

Intensive raids in hazardous units since May this year led to redemption of 47 more child labourers.

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