Presently, child labour in India is banned for work involving hazardous activities, defined as manufacturing or handling of pesticides and insecticides, tobacco processing, warehousing, use of machinery, cashewnut descaling and processing, and working as domestic help and in restaurants, among others.
In response to a question on child labour in agriculture, Sibal said: “There is an inter-ministerial group which is thinking to put a blanket ban on child labour in every walk of life.”
In agriculture, child labour is banned only in processes where tractors, threshing and harvesting machines are used and for chaff cutting. According to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, 80 percent of the child labour in India is in agricultural sector.
The minister also said that there was a need to open more schools in remote areas to address the need of sending these children to school.
“We are very concerned because real problem arises in rural areas… so state governments are required to set up neighbourhood schools,” Sibal said.
The minister said provisions for setting up schools were provided in the Right to Education (RTE) act, but detailed work for population mapping was needed.
“The number of children and requirement of schools will have to be calculated,” he said.
The RTE act provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years.