“We are embarking on a nine-day integrated campaign in which awareness will be created about the ban on child labour which warrants penal action under the modified sections of the Child Labourers (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 1986 which came into effect from October 10, 2006,” Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters.
The campaign has been named ‘Bachpan Ho Azad (let childhood be free)’ and several NGOs, including UNICEF, Bachapan Bachao Andolan and Nidan would carry it out, Modi, who also holds the labour portfolio, said.
According to the 2001 census in Bihar, 5.4 lakh children were “main workers”, who worked for over six months, while 5.8 lakh were “marginal workers”, who worked for less than six months, he said.
Earlier, the employment of child labourers in hazardous jobs alone was prohibited, but as per the new amendments, employment of children below the age of 14 years as domestic help, in roadside eateries, resorts and entertainment centres has also been declared illegal. “Now there are provisions to slap a fine of Rs 20,000 or imprisonment for a year or both on those employers who violate the legislation,” he said.