Monday, June 18, 2012

Child tracking system to curb trafficking to cotton fields in Gujarat

JAIPUR: To curb child trafficking from Rajasthan to Gujarat to provide labour for Bt cotton fields, the border districts in the state are set to start a child tracking system with the help of the education department.

Every year, a large number of children from districts including Udaipur, Dungarpur and Banswara are trafficked to Gujarat to work in Bt cotton fields. Despite concerted efforts of the district administration and the police, the illegal practice continues.

Now, a child tracking system would be introduced to trace missing children.

Udaipur district collector Hemant Gera said, "We are collecting lists of students enrolled in the schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan from the block education officers. Now, these lists will be handed over to the patwaris of the respective areas. They, in turn, will track the children who have gone missing from these areas. Through the system we will keep an eye on every child in a particular block."

Recently, a report prepared by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had raised the issue of children below 14 years of age being employed in Gujarat's Bt cotton farms.

The report also stated that working in these fields is hazardous where adults and children are exposed to pesticides throughout the day for a period of 2-3 months. Children's nimble fingers are used to carry out cross pollination of flowers during the season. Also with their short height, children don't have to bend much unlike adults. If they remove child labour then it would not be easy for the farmers to cross-pollinate as children could easily cross-pollinate the flowers without having to bend too much because of their short height.

Last year a child lost his hand at a ginning factory in Gujarat. Following the intervention of the Udaipur district administration, the child received compensation.

The report also highlighted sexual abuse of children working in the fields.

As the seasonal migration of labour takes place in June-July, NCPCR member Yogesh Dube is set to the visit the state on June 19 to review the measures taken to prevent child trafficking. With the visit round the corner, the officials of Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights (RCPCR) officials, including chairperson Deepak Kalra, have swung into action. The officials will visit Udaipur and Dungarpur to review the measures taken by the district administrations.

RCPCR member Govind Beniwal said, "To prevent seasonal migration of children, NCPCR recommendations must be followed. Also, the government should work on inter-state action plan to deal with the problem."

The collectors of neighbouring districts of Rajasthan have taken up the issue with the collectors of Himmat Nagar and other districts in Gujarat. In Udaipur district, nearly 18 check posts will be set up with the help of the police department to check the migration of children.

Besides, the Udaipur district administration has also planned a long-term strategy which includes strengthening social security networks to tackle the problem.

The district administration said that three years ago nearly 700 orphaned children in the district were getting assistance of Rs675 per month. Now, the number of such children has increased to 4,500, it claimed.

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