`Small hands can handle a pen better’: J&K government to declare rag-picking an organized sector to combat child labor

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Srinagar: Social welfare department has recommended declaring rag-picking an organized sector to combat the menace of child labor in Jammu and Kashmir.

Scores of the non-locals especially children can be seen collecting plastic, metal, and other waste on roadsides. As such the department said that the practice of rag-picking was promoting child labor in the valley.

In its latest draft of the Rehabilitation Policy for Children in Street Situation, the department has asked the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) department to make the occupation of rag-picking an organized sector so that these families do not employ children in this highly unhygienic work.

 “ULBs shall make all the efforts to bring the occupation of rag picking into the organized sector so that the families can sell waste and plastic materials to the people at a fixed price and earn their livelihood,” the draft policy said.

 “The bank account of such families should be opened so that the occupation of rag picking can become a source of income for them and would keep their children off the child labor,” it said.

Moreover, the draft policy also recommended counseling for the families involved in rag picking.

 “Self-help groups can be involved in identifying such families who are rag pickers. Counseling can be arranged for them. It must be ensured that the children who are involved in such works should be enrolled in schools and attend classes regularly,” it said.

Social welfare department has also asked ULBs to take action against the employers of the children in the union territory.

 “ULBs should identify such people who are buying plastic waste from the children. They should take appropriate action against such people including filing FIR under Child and Adolescent Labour Prohibition and Regulatory Act,” it said.

The draft policy was framed by National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and Save The Children.

Under the policy, police and other agencies have been empowered to strictly enforce the laws against child labor.

 “Local police shall register an FIR against the perpetrators and employers of children for violation of Child Labour Act, 1986, Juvenile Justice Act,2015 and Indian penal Code 1860 on the statement of the child given before the Child Welfare Committee,” the policy document said.

Mohammad Sharif Bhat, Project Head, Save The Children, said that there is a need to rehabilitate these children.

 “We have given training to the officials of Integrated Child Development Services. The policy will help to secure the future of the children who live in street situations,” he said.

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