Activists and police rescued several child labourers, including six girls, from the Vadaj construction site of the Ahmedabad Metro Rail, a government project, while they were hauling bricks and ferrying construction material, On Wednesday evening.
Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation is in charge of carrying out the metro project (GMRC). Its officials, on the other hand, were completely unaware of the discovery of child labourers on one of its construction sites.
The six girls and two boys, all minors, were rescued by the NGOs Bachpan Bachao Andolan and International Human Rights Council in conjunction with the Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of Ahmedabad Police and FFWC, the volunteer organisation of CID Crime.
According to the FIR, which was filed at Ahmedabad’s Vadaj police station, all of those rescued were between the ages of 13 and 17. The children worked from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and were paid Rs 300 per day.
Manilal, Prem, and Madiya Bhuriyo were charged with illegal compulsory labour under IPC section 374, employment of children under sections 3 and 14 of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, and exploitation of a child employee under section 79 of the Juvenile Justice Act. The three are all supervisors appointed by the contractor.
A day later, when asked if these accused had been identified and apprehended by police, Naranpura PI Amitkumar Jadav, who is in charge of Vadaj police station, said, “We have appointed a female PSI to investigate the case. We are still trying to identify the three accused and bring them in for questioning.”
Seven of the rescued children are from Dahod district, while one is from Banswara district of Rajasthan.Of the six girls, four are from Patiya village of Garbada taluka, one is from Dasla, Gangardi panchayat of Garbada taluka, and one is from Ambakach village of Dhanpur taluka of Dahod. Of the two boys, one is from Kaliyawad village of Dhanpur taluka in Dahod and the other is from a village in Banswada, Rajasthan.
Ahmedabad Collector Sandip Sagale said, “An FIR has already been filed and I’ve ordered a probe by a labour officer too. Meanwhile, we are looking at the rehabilitation of the children. While three of them have been handed over to their parents, others are in protection of the state.”
When asked about the onus of liability in this case, DCP Zone 1 Lavina Sinha said, “The sub-contractor who hired the children is liable the most. We have to then check whether their superiors in the chain of command were aware about employment of children in construction work. Only then can the liability be fixed.”
When informed that child labourers had been rescued from a metro construction site, Pushkar Singla, General Manager of Coordination at GMRC, said, “We will investigate the incident and ensure that action is taken against the consultant company in accordance with the contract agreement.”