Andhra Pradesh government orders inquiry after NDTV report shows child labour at brick kilns

South | Written by Uma Sudhir | Updated: January 22, 2014 14:37 IST

HYDERABAD:  The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry after an NDTV report showed children working alongside adult labourers at a brick kiln near Hyderabad.
State Labour Commissioner Dr A Ashok ordered the inquiry after it was discovered that the kiln owner had no license to operate and had not registered with the Labour Department.
At the brick kiln that NDTV visited, women were seen carrying 10-12 bricks on their head and men with upto 20 bricks balanced precariously on metallic baskets hanging on either side of a pole resting on the shoulder.
Boys and girls as young as 4 were carrying air-dried bricks to be stacked in kilns for baking. Almost all the faces there were dark, baked in the heat of the sun and coal, dust and smoke.

"All of us, including children and old, work together here, how else can we survive," said one of the workers.
The children belonged to families that migrate annually from the most backward districts of Odisha to some 200 brick kilns in districts around Hyderabad. Contractors pay upto Rs.15,000 for each of them. What price these children fetch depends on their physical capacity to do work.
"How much we make here will depend on how many bricks I make," says 13-year-old Shiva, who was brought by a contractor after paying Rs. 12,000.
"There is advance paid on the children as well, so of course they would also have to work," explains Pushpa, who was paid Rs. 60,000 for a family of four.
The little ones, covered all over with soot, hang on to their mothers, seeking attention and care, some crying, some feeding, even as the mother goes about her work.
None of these worksites had a school or anganwadi where the child can get access to education, nutrition or healthcare services. Constant exposure to coal, dust and smoke led to skin allergy and coughing.
Dr Ashok, who ordered the inquiry, said that violators will be prosecuted and assured that child and bonded labourers would be rescued and rehabilitated. That is payment of upto Rs.20,000 per person and ensuring the children go to school as required under Right To Education or RTE.