THE STATE IN FOCUS: DELHI
The National Sample Survey of 2004-2005 and that of 2009 – 2010 estimated 9000 and 18576 working children respectively. While these are official figures there are studies that indicate a much higher number of working children. This also needs to be reviewed in the back drop of the fact that according to one estimate, Delhi has 28,31,9471 children in the age group 6 to 13 years, of whom 27,47,523 are school going and 43,735 (3.34%) are out-of-school. There are other estimates of out-of-school children. The survey conducted by Samajika Suvidha Sangam (Mission Convergence Directorate) shows that there are 6,43,315 children in the age group 7-17 years of whom 4,50,402 are not in school. All such out-of-school children are to be considered as child labour or potential child labour who would sooner or later join the labour pools
As enumerated by the Census Survey of India 2011, in Delhi, out of the total work-force, children aged 5-14 years were approximately 39,000 (Census 2011). Although these figures can be contested by different civil society organisations for under reporting, it is important to note that the rise of marginal workers in the informal sector. Further, if we consider the number of children seeking/available for work amongst non-workers in the same age group, there is potential child labour of an additional 22,245 children. It is interesting to note that among the marginal workers; around 70% of them are students (Census Survey of India, Government of India, 2011). This highlights the informal form of labour amongst children where they may be enrolled in school, but work for a given number of hours to generate some income. In Delhi, child labour is concentrated predominantly in unorganised manufacturing and informal service sectors. A street children enumeration study undertaken by Save the Children in 2010 found that: 1. one out of every five street children in Delhi is a rag picker.
2. 15% of the total street children were identified as street vendors,
3. 15% as beggars,
4. 12% as workers in repair shops and
5. 7% as working in roadside dhabas, hotels and manufacturing units.
There is also evidence that such children are mainly from Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Some of the key findings from the study are as follows:
It is estimated that a total of 8044 children are engaged in garment related activities, spread over five districts
1. Okhla Ward, South-East District – 1922- Highest number of children
2. Tuglaqabad Ward- 241- Least number of children
3. Chandni Chowk, Chandni Mahal and Pratapnagar in Central Delhi district- 0 – Units from these locations have been moved out
Area where most child labour prevailed in Delhi are:
1.East – Gandhi nagar,Geeta colony ,Kailash nagar
2.North-east Delhi – Usmanpu/seelampur
3.Central – Chandni chowk ,Pratapnagar, Chandni mahal
4.South – khirki ,Shahpur jat
5.South-east Delhi – batla house ,tughalqabad extensions,okhla, Sangam vihar, madanpur khadar
Magnitude of Rescue conducted:
The implementation of the said Action Plan has been monitored by the High Court from time to time. The DCPCR tracks the status on a monthly basis. The data provided by Labour Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi indicates that over 3734 children have been rescued from different districts of Delhi between July 2009 and June 2013. This includes 2357 children below 14 years and 1377 above 14 years.
It is important to flag that the said Action Plan has been revolutionary in the sense that it directs the Department of Labour to rescue all children below 18 years within the framework of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2006. Therefore only 63% of all rescued children were dealt with in the framework of the Child labour (regulation and prohibition Act), 1986.
About four hundred and forty rescued children (440) across all districts were less than 10 years of age. As per the available statistics, the District Task Force facilitated rescue of less than 1000 children (934) each year, which works out to 78 children each month.
More than 50% of child labour produced before the CWC is more than 14 years of age1 and 14% (440) were girls. Of these 440 girls, 367 cases of girls were handled by CWC at Nirmal Chhaya. Therefore, even if there is some repetition of data, the number of girls would not be less than 367. The Labour Department has reported rescue of only 10 girls below 14 years.
The study reflects that 80% of the total children rescued were from the districts of South, Central, North East and North West. The North West District accounts for one fourth of all rescues conducted.
It is also significant to note that the South district accounts for the maximum number of children in the age group 14 – 18. Around 50% of the children rescued from south district were in the age group of 14 – 18 years. The Labour Department did not report any children above the age of 14 years from the district of North, South West and New Delhi.
Bihar accounts for more than half of the children rescued from child labour whereas Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal contribute for another one third. The boys are largely from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh whereas the girls largely belong to West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam. The number of children from states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam is negligible in this database because of very limited involvement of Labour Department in the rescue of single child from domestic work and especially in case of trafficked girls above 14 years.
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) recently rescued 12 children illegally engaged at a garment’s factory and a mechanic workshop from east Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar.
The children were working without masks in unsafe and unhygienic conditions, the commission said in a statement.A team of the commission led by its member Roop Sudesh Vimal, along with officials of Delhi Police, labour department, SDM Vivek Vihar and NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan conducted the rescue operation
in June, six child labour related cases were reported to the Childline in Gautam Budh Nagar compared to none in April and two in May. There were 18 such cases in March before the first phase of lockdown was announced to contain the Covid-19 spread.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a NGO, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking protection for children who were at risk of becoming “hapless victims of human trafficking, in the wake of, and as an aftermath of, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant extended lockdown”. The BBA urged the government to frame a policy to prevent trafficking and ensure rescue and rehabilitation of affected children and said child trafficking resulted in child labour and sex trafficking. The number of street children pushed into begging is likely to spike. Considering the deepening agrarian crisis, child labour is likely to be sourced from agricultural households as well. The BBA has received information from multiple sources that traffickers have started approaching potential victims and their families and have even started handing out advance payments for the children.