West Bengal’s Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has angered the child rights activists by saying that the idea of complete ban on child labour is not practical.
Mr Bhattacharya, who is a senior leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist), said that keeping child labourers out of work was not a wise step as these child workers are the only earning members of their family. “We cannot ask them to stop work, that will affect their family’s source of income”, remarked the CM.
He said instead of total ban on child labour, it should be ensured that their studies and work go hand in hand. The CM further said, "We have decided to make them study while at work".
Though the Union Government officially banned child labour four years ago, many state governments haven’t taken stringent actions to stop the widespread practice. West Bengal does not have a commission for the protection of child rights and it hasn't yet framed rules to implement the Right to Education.
Opposition leaders and activists have criticized the CM for his remarks and asked how he could ignore exploitation of child labourers. Child rights activists say that childhood can not be sacrificed for work.
Mr Bhattacharya says that different schemes can be planned that allow the child to both work and play.