18 arrested for involvement in child labour in Andhra

Vijayawada, Aug 19: Authorities in Andhra Pradesh have arrested 18 people for alleged involvement in a child labour racket and rescued 67 children, an official said today.

District collector Navin Mittal told reporters here that of these children, 41 belonged to Mantada village and most of them were employed in Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam. Some were even sent to other cities like Mumbai. 26 children were yet to be traced and the district administration has filed cases against the agents who hired them. Action would be taken against the employers, he said.

Mittal said the child labour racket had been going on for several years with the consent of parents. While a broker got Rs 1500 per child, the parents are given amounts between Rs 18,000 and Rs 12,000.

A total of 3,000 such cases were unearthed last year while 1,620 were exposed since April this year, he added.

A special school has been established from August 1 by Navajeevan Bala Bhavan under the sponsorship of the National Child Labour Project in Mantada, where educational and vocational training are provided to the rescued children. The school also provides a mid-day meal and Rs 100 as stipend per month to each child.

Some more schools will be set up in future, he said.

Of the 67 children, 26 belonged to Vijayanagaram, Srikakulam and Rajahmundry, and have been sent back to their respective places, he said.

In the district, seven mandals have been declared as child labour-free areas.

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