Gujarat accounts for 55 per cent of the country's child labour working in cottonseed production and the total number of children working in such fields has reached 1.10 lakh, according to an NGO study report released here today.
"Gujarat, which has the largest cottonseed production area in the country accounts for nearly 55 per cent of total children employed in this sector (1.10 lakh)," reads a study 'Cotton's Forgotten Children' conducted by social rights activist Davuluri Venkateswarlu for the NGO India Committee of the Netherlands.
Research data for 2014-15 showed that children under 14 years still account for nearly 25 per cent of the total workforce in cottonseed farms in India, the report stated.
In 2014-15, around two lakh children below 14 years were employed in cottonseed fields in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the report stated.
Citing findings of the report that the caste factor plays a huge role in child labour, a city-based rights activist
Ramesh Shrivastava said that "Around 70 per cent of child labourers are from tribal communities and 4.5 per cent of these children hail from Schedules Castes, while 18.6 per cent of such child labourers of Other Backward Class (OBC) and 6.7 per cent are from other castes".
Most child labourers hail from the tribal belt of Gujarat namely Dahod, Chhota Udaipur and Sabarkantha districts, he said.
In Gujarat, around 56.7 per cent of child labourers had to drop out of schools while 34.3 per cent of them continued to go to school but w ork during the peak season, he said.