Ph no.(Off) 2426017
(Seccretary: Dimond & Cotton Textile Labour Union
Ex President: South Gujrat Productivity Council
Vice President: Dimond Ind. & Cotton Textile Credit Co-op. Society
M.D. : Yarn Ind Co- Op. Society
Director: Himalaya Cotton Yarn)
An overview of Surat city
He said: The city has a network of traders and agents dealing with yarns, processed and finished textile goods, petty manufacturers of looms and lathes, entrepreneurs dealing with production, processing, repairs and services of a variety of associated as well as diverse products. A large volume of the workforce, especially the ones toiling with machines, looms and lathes is from the city slums.
He said: Not only within the state of Gujarat but also at the all India level Surat has recorded
an impressive growth in its population especially during the last two and a half decades. Presently population of Surat is more than 50 lac.
He said: A large proportion of these workers are migrants located mainly in the slum pockets of the city's eastern half. More than 30 per cent of the city population lived in its slums.
He said: Hindus constituting 81 per cent followed by 18 per cent Muslims. Among others, a prominent group is that of the neo Buddhists migrated mainly from the neighboring regions in
Maharashtra. While 9 per cent of the households belong to Scheduled tribes and are migrants from specific districts in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat, among the Hindus around 38 per cent belongs to lower and another 30 per cent to Scheduled caste groups. The Muslim population too is divided in terms of specific sects and orders among whom a large section has come from the adjoining district of Bharuch in Gujarat and the districts of Jalgaon and Dhule in Maharashtra.
Problem of Child labour and Bonded labour in Surat
He Said: Constitution of India strictly prohibits employment of children under the age of 14 years in factories or in other hazardous employment. We have a number of laws which prohibits employment of child labor for more than 100 yrs. In 1986, the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was formed. This act prohibits child labour activity in carpet weaving, cloth printing, dyeing, weaving, manufacture of matches, fireworks, explosives. These are hazardous occupations. The 1986 Act also limits child work for six hours between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. with one day of rest per week, and provides penalties of imprisonment and fine up to 10,000 rupees for violations. For repeated offenses, imprisonment can be up to three years. But here in Surat you can see it very easily that most of such factories have employed a large number of children in their factories. This type of inhuman activity decreases the life of a child worker. I think it is a matter of state government but here state government is a not a responsible government. He said: The implementation of child labor legislation in India is ensured by labor inspectors. At the district level Labor inspectors are responsible for ensuring that no child below the stipulated age is employed. But now a day’s because of corruption, most of the Labour Inspectors have converted himself as a agent of factory owners. He said: The employer wants to make more profits with less labour cost, whereas the Worker wants to gain more wages. But the child worker does not know about the laws. Poor children work here because their parents are not in a condition to afford expenditure of their families. Greedy factory owners employ them because of cheap labour. He said: it is unfortunate that the problem of child labour exists to a large extent in our country. Surat is not an exception. In fact, child labour is the result of various ills in the society. Poverty and illiteracy are basic factors which are responsible for child labour practice in our country. He said: Most of the Children come here from the economically backward areas mostly from Bihar, UP, West Bengal Orissa and other States. These children are working in most pitiable conditions. Some of them are living in their work places, as they have no regular shelter. They work for long hours and are provided very low wages. Child workers who are working in Printing and dyeing factories never find Rs 2000-2500 pm for more than 12 hour duty. These children have no security in terms of their family or community and are therefore in a highly vulnerable position for exploitation. Those children, who have migrated here without their parents are living in factories in a very worst condition.
He said: The exact number of child workers in Surat's export industry is not known. Major export industries utilize child labor but it is very difficult to find them. Children are also exploited as bonded laborers, particularly in the carpet industry.
About the organization Shramjivi sevalaya
He said: You might have seen many poor street children, pale wearing dirty- half torn clothes, begging, searching the garbage, sleeping under street lights, eating the leftovers, running across the railway tracks or roads and dying. These children are huge social problem and they all preyto bad habits like smoking, intoxication and also tosex abuse and antim social activities. They are orphans but not all of them. Shramjivi has adopted 2900 such children from all over surat. We co- ordinate with government institutes, other organizations, schools and donorsworking for child welfare to provided these helpless children food, medicine, education and vocational training.Shramjivi stands for total abolition of child labour & is thriviling hard for rehabilation of child labour & street children through JIGAR CHILD WELFARE TRUST.
(Interview taken by Devendra Pratap 9719867313)