Despite being a developed state, there are large number of child labourers in Gujarat, alleges citizen journalist Sharvari Raval. The citizen jounalist wonders why the state government is failing to tackle the menace of child labour at a time when it is blowing its trumpet as a developed state. Will a election focussed government turn out a blind eye to the plight of these children?
The worry of the citizen journalist is not unfounded as in October 2011, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights expressed serious concernon the use of child labour in the Bt cottonseed farms in north Gujarat in the districts of Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan and Mehsana. The report said:
“Large number of children is being trafficked to Gujarat (Banaskanta, Sambarkanta and Patan districts) from Rajasthan (especially from Udaipur, Banswara and Dungarpur districts of Udaipur division) for engaging them as child labour in the artificial pollination work in Bt cottonseed farms. The young children between 8 and 15 are preferred as labour force for the same job. Over the years production of Bt cotton is going up, bringing more prosperity to Gujarat’s agrarian economy, which grew by 16.6 per cent last year. The State contributes to one-third of the country’s cotton output, as the region got better irrigation facilities from Narmada and Sujalam Sufalam canals and getting cheap labour from the neighbouring State. The State of Gujarat is prospering at the social cost of the child labour.”
In another report, use of child labour was also seen in the in Gujarat’s Khambhat region. Cheap child labour was used to shape and polish coloured stones to make decorative pieces out of them.
Gujarat votes on 13 and 17 December in a two-phase poll. The counting of votes is scheduled on 20 December.