IES is one of the pioneer organizations to undertake research studies on various aspects linked to the management of the environment in the glass industries. IES undertook a comprehensive study to evaluate the industrial impact of the glass industry in Western Uttar Pradesh.
Improving Environmental and Health Condition of Children Working in the Glass Industries at Firozabad
The Society is implementing the above mentioned project to generate awareness through health camps to address the problem of child labour and also of environmental pollution affecting the children working in the glass industry. The goal of the project is to specify the means employed for implementing future health camps with the aim of a constant improvement of the children's health. The Society has set-up dispensary at Firozabad to help the children to improve their health.
Background and Objectives
Child labour remains a serious problem in India even though the government has established several legal instruments to address the problem of child and bonded labour. Children are often working in highly polluted, dangerous, and unhealthy working environment, which in many instances is the primary source of a variety of serious health problems. Government of India's most notable attempt to tackle the problem of child labour has been to declare this practice illegal and create laws and labour enforcement infrastructure to address the issue. Yet, the number of children joining the work force is growing more rapidly. More seriously, a major chunk of the growing child work force is engaged in activities which are highly damaging to their health and consequently to their productive life. Glass industry in Firozabad (U.P) represents one such working environment where children are victims of pollution and economic exploitation.
Certainly, these working children are a product of persisting economic deprivation and insecurity. However, lack of awareness on issues relating to pollution and health and non implementation of the provision of law due to weak enforcement have also contributed to the rising problem of child labour and their economic exploitation, as well as to the issues of environmental pollution which further increase the vulnerability of child workers. Weak enforcement of the law has not only allowed glass factory owners to hire children as wageworkers but also encouraged them to discriminate against these children in terms of earnings, working hours and conditions.
However, there had been a rising concern against the practice of child labour, especially by highly labour intensive and polluted industries, such as the glass industry, which is known for exploiting children as workers. There have also been efforts, which are now generating pressure on concerned industries, and the government to remove child labour and protect their rights. These efforts are still in a stage of infancy and need to be intensified, by way of raising awareness, through workshops, seminars and training programs, on issues relating to the problem of child labour, in broad socio-economic and legal context, the issue of environment, which affects a large number of people but more seriously the working children. The education can play very important role and it is important that children working in the industries should go to school so that they can hold honourable positions in the society.
Based on the above-said lines, IES is implementing the project entitled “Improving Environmental and health Conditions of Children Working in the GLASS Industries” at Firozabad from the past few years. The Society is continuously organizing awareness programme through training, seminars and workshops which aim to address the problem of child labour and environmental pollution affecting the child working in the glass industries. The Society also conducted large number of Health camps at Firozabad for the children working in the glass industries.
Objectives of the programme are as follows:
- To improve the environmental conditions in glass industry, this may help the workers to work comfortably.
- To encourage the public awareness and their participation for improving environment quality of the children working in the industries.
- To organize health camps for the children, their mothers, and women working in glass industry.
The Society has also developed some useful resource material for the children working in the Glass Industries. The material developed is in the local language (HINDI). It has been distributed to children working in the Glass industries and to their families. The Society published two posters and one booklet on Child Labour in Hindi Language for spreading awareness on child Labour. The Society has also developed one colour book for the children and the same is distributed among them. The colour book “Learn with colours” contains some useful information on the issues of environment. It has been found that this is the easiest method to make these children understand about health and hygiene. The Society has also set-up one dispensary at Firozabad.
The Society has been organizing health check-up camps and awareness programmes in the Firozabad towns and in surrounding villages. Around 50 child workers are being examined in each health camp. The physicians in collaboration with IES staff conducted the health camps. The Society has also carried out a survey during the camp. The results have shown that around 50% of the child labour is in a poor medical condition, 25% acceptable, with the remaining 25% poor to acceptable. Around 90% are malnourished. Health cards were issued to the children during the camps, which allow them to visit the clinic of IES physician in Firozabad for free consultation and medicines. Free medical facilities are being provided during the medical health camps. For serious ailments, patients are referred to hospitals. The Society also involved women group in the health camps. Free medical assistant is being provided to women working in the glass industries and also to the mothers of the children working in the glass industries.
The IES staff made visits to monitor the impact of health camps. It was found that 95% of the children are not in good health. Of which, 10% needs extra medical help.