New Delhi: As the nation prepares for Anti- Child Labour Day on Tuesday, the head of India's child rights body on Monday called for amending the law to ensure that any form of child labour is deemed hazardous for minors.

There is a need to club both hazardous and non-hazardous work as child labour, Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Shanta Sinha said on Monday.

"There is a serious need to amend The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act of 1986. Every kind of child labour should be considered hazardous to children," Sinha said.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986 after the recommendations of the Gurupadaswamy Committee set up in 1979. Pursuant to the Plan of Action, National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987.

The national policy on child labour envisages that in special schools, these children be provided formal/non-formal education along with vocational training, a monthly stipend of Rs 100 for children withdrawn from work, supplementary nutrition and regular health checkups so as to prepare them to join mainstream schools.

"The Rs 100 stipend is on official papers only. I wonder how many kids receive this monthly stipend," Sinha said.

The 2001 Census estimates the number of child labourers in India to be about 12.7 million, a figure which experts say is grossly understated.

"It cannot be taken as an accurate figure since many cases of child labour go unreported. Many children work in 'underground economy' making it difficult to enumerate them," Sinha said.

"I think children provide a cheap means of labour and they are preferred over the able-bodied mature people. Thus child labour leads to poverty and unemployment rather then the other way round," Sinha said.


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