In India, children are forced to work from a tender age to sustain their family and meet their basic needs. Child labour continues to be a problem in various parts of the country due to poverty, lack of good schools and the growth of the economy. According to a UN report, there are 152 million kids working as child labourers in India. These kids, who should be in school, are working in factories, construction sites and at homes and restaurants.
As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, hiring children below the age of 14 years for any kind of work, other than in certain family-based work, is a cognizable offense and punishable with a jail term of up to 2 years. Adolescents between the age of 14-18 years cannot be employed in any hazardous occupation.
However, the law is not strictly imposed and children are often rescued from factories and hazardous locations. Two days after World Day Against Child Labour (June 12), a raid was carried out by the Chhattisgarh police along with volunteers from ChildLine and the Women & Child Development Department at a Parle-G factory in Raipur, where 26 child labourers were found and rescued.
Parle-G, can you believe that? It is India's most loved biscuit and has a child on its packet!
According to a leading daily, a complaint has been filed against the owner, Vimal Khetan, under Section 79 of the Juvenile Justice Act for keeping the children (all aged between 10-16 years) inside with no outside contact whatsoever. If implicated, he could face a penalty of Rs50,000 per child and a maximum of two years in jail.
The rescued minors have been given accommodation in a government shelter home and their parents have been informed about the situation. They will also be provided counselling soon.
Reportedly, the children were made to work from 8 am to 8 pm and received Rs 5,000-7,000 per month as wages.
Business Standard reported an official from Parle-G saying, "The factory, in this case, is not owned or run by Parle Products and is operated by a third-party, sub-contractor. The brand does not employ minors. An internal investigation is on and a concrete action will be taken to address the situation."