Shillong, Feb 8: Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong on Friday said that bonded labour is negligible in the State but admitted that child labour is a threat to the State.
Addressing the inaugural session of the day long workshop on “Elimination of Bonded Labour and Child Labour System” jointly organized by National Human Rights Commission and Labour Department of the StateGovernment at Yojana Bhawan, Secretariat here, Tynsong said that the State government has been taking the initiative and proactive steps to ensure that the State is free from the menace of child labour.
He hoped that the workshop will help in further strengthening the system which is already in place to check bonded labour and child labour. He also expressed shock over a report which claimed that Meghalaya has high number of cases related to child labour.
“This is not true and we do not know they had collected the information and come out with such a report. We are not saying that there are no cases of child labour,” Tynsong said.
In his keynote address, National Human Rights Commission member, Justice P C Ghose, informed that the objective of the workshop was to raise awareness among the States and also discuss the issues of interstate migrant labour.
“There are challenges in the implementation of Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976 and this workshop will provide valuable insights in monitoring and implementing the Act,” he said.
He also said that even as the Act is in place creating awareness about the Act and legislations is respect to Bonded Labour is the need of the hour.
Considering the seriousness of the issue of child Labour in the coal mines of the State, Justice Ghose that the workshop would help to create awareness and sensitize all stakeholders for the eradication, release and rehabilitation of Bonded and Child Labour system.
He also spoke about coal mining in Meghalaya and incidents of miners getting trapped inside the mines especially in flooded coal mines during rainy season.
The technical session was chaired by Justice P C Ghose discussed with representatives and office bearers of brick kilns, besides interactions on stone crushing, illegal mining and other activities related industries in Meghalaya.
Presentations on Bonded Labour and on Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour 2016 were also made during the technical session. The views of NGOs/victims on the situation on identification, release and rehabilitation of released bonded labourers and Child Labourers from Meghalaya also formed part of the discussion and deliberation of the day.
Chief Secretary, Y Tsering, Principal Secretary, Labour Department, D P Wahlang, DGP R Chandranathan, Meghalaya Human Rights Commision member, P Haneman, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson, Meena Kharkongor. Research Scholars from different universities and labour officers and police officers also attended the workshop.