Andheri resident Krishna Parmar carefully checks firecracker boxes before buying sparklers or crackers for his kids. “No buying fireworks where children are employed as labourers,” says Parmar. “Yes, it’s the festive season but we’re also celebrating Children’s Day on Wednesday.”
As the country celebrates Children’s Day today, child labour still continues to remain a reality in many firework factories. Although many known fireworks manufacturers are putting up declarations on packets that child labour was not employed, Parmar claims that despite regulations which mandate all companies to stop employing child labour, many small manufacturing units still do not have any on their boxes.
This Diwali, Mumbaikars are growing conscious of employment of child labour at fireworks manufacturing units. And several units have put up declarations on products, committing to not having used child labour.
Whenever Dombivli resident Ashwin Mantri goes to shop for crackers, he buys only such fireworks. “I saw them for the first time last year. This year, I decided to purchase only such firecrackers even if it costs a little more,” Mantri said, adding that he wants to celebrate Diwali without encouraging child labour.
Firecracker vendor Abdul Munaf from Masjid Bunder says, “Variety and quality are two things people look for in crackers, but many are going for child labour-free ones.”
Manufacturers like Standard Fireworks have a printed declaration: ‘No Child Labour was employed in manufacturing of this firework’. in bold letters on the box.
Small or home-based units, however, still continue employing child labour, say experts. Farida Lambay, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and director of Nirmala Niketan, says that the state’s grand plan has failed to check the practice of child labour in the unorganised sector.