Silent Angels:Chennai : NGOs activity centres for child domestic workers

NGOs start activity centres for child domestic workers

M Ramya | TNN

Chennai: After the case of 10-year-old Rameshwari Jadhav being beaten and scalded by her employer — a small-time TV actor in Mumbai — came to light, the labour ministry is trying to curb the practice of employing children as domestic workers. But not many people are interested in children like 15-year-old R Ragini, an orphan living with her brother and sister, who has been working as a maid in a house in Rajapillai Thottam in T Nagar for 12 years.

Ragini dropped out of school when she was in Class III, and can’t even write her own name. If she had been discovered a year ago, legal action could have been taken against her employer for hiring a child in hazardous labour, but now the Child Labour Prevention and Regulation Act (CLPRA) cannot help her since she is over 14 years.

An ongoing survey of child domestic workers in the city by two NGOs, Save The Children and Arunodaya Centre for Street and Working Children, shows that there are 35 children being employed in households in Kodambakkam, T Nagar and Choolaimedu, and 22 children in T P Chattram, Anna Nagar and Aminjikarai, many of them between 14 and 18 years.

Programme manager of Save The Children in the state Sandhya Krishnan says, “Though child labour has been included as a hazardous form of labour under the CLPRA, it states that only children under 14 cannot be employed in hazardous forms of labour, leaving those aged between 14 and 18 years (who are also children under Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children) without legal protection.”

Many of the children in this age group grow up to become poorly paid unskilled domestic workers. Extra-curricular or recreational activities or learning vocational skills is out of the question. To change this, the NGOs are setting up six contact and activity centres across the city. There are three centres in the city — two in Kodambakkam and one in T P Chattram.

It gives children the opportunity to play games and learn vocational skills such as tailoring and beauty techniques. Where such centres are not possible, the organisations are talking to resident welfare associations in apartments to allow them to use parking areas to give the children vocational training.

E Mala, who handles the centre in Rangarajapuram in Kodambakkam which caters to 23 children between 15 and 17 years, says, “Children can express themselves, increase their self-esteem and have fun. These are things that they never seem to have time for.”

Mala, who started working as a domestic help when she was 10, is now studying second year BA History in Quaid-E-Millet College for Women and wants to become a social worker.

Through these centres the NGOs hope to have many success stories like that of Firoza in Kolkata, who successfully completed a six-month beautician course. She has since left her employer and returned to her family in Joynagar, from where she commutes five days a week to Kolkata where she is a practising beautician and to continue her training.

Firoza is Ragini’s idol. “I just learnt how to apply mascara. Next week I’m going to learn how to shape eyebrows. Soon I’ll be working just like Firoza akka,” she says.

Police: A brave cop

Brave heart cop helps nab dacoit

Dragged For 200 Mtrs As He Held On To Steering Wheel Of Suspects’ Jeep


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Pune: The daring act of a c o n s t abl e helped the Pune rural police nab a suspect belonging to a six-member gang that allegedly committed a dacoity at a f a r m e r ’s house at Ranjani village near Manchar — about 60 km from here — in the wee hours of Friday.
Police constable S N Swami held on to the steering wheel of a jeep in which the suspects were trying to flee. He was dragged for nearly 200 metres, after which the driver lost control of the vehicle and it crashed to a halt.

The gang of six dacoits had forced their way into farmer Laxman Nana Bhor’s house around 2 am on Friday. They threatened the Bhor family with sharp weapons; snatched Bhor’s gold ring, his wife Sunita’s gold chain, other silver ornaments and cash of Rs 8,000, and fled. The Bhors immediately informed the Manchar police about the incident.
Assistant police inspector Dyaneshwar Ganore of the Manchar police told TOI, “Our team immediately rushed to the spot. Bhor showed us the direction in which the suspects had fled.”

Members of the Gram Surksha Dal also gathered to help the police. “When we were heading towards Belhe road, we saw a jeep that looked suspicious. Seeing our police jeep, it started gathering speed, but we gave chase and blocked its path, bringing it to a halt. There were six persons in the jeep. The driver told us that they were coming from Bhimashankar,” Ganore said.

“Police constable S N Swami tried to remove the key from the ignition. However, the driver started the jeep and drove towards Nimgaon Sava village with constable Swami holding on to the steering wheel. Swami was dragged for about 200 metres and fell to the road, a few meters away from us,” Ganore said.

The driver, meanwhile, lost control of the jeep and it overturned. Gram Surksha Dal members, who were present, immediately pulled one of the suspects out of the vehicle and started thrashing him. “We ran towards the jeep and managed to rescue the man from the clutches of the Gram Surksha Dal members. However, the other suspects managed to escape,” Ganore said.

The police recovered sandalwood and weapons from the jeep. The suspect has been identified as Rajendra Sitaram Jadhav (25) of Pathardi in Ahmednagar district. “We have sent a team to Pathardi to look for the other suspects,” Ganore said.

Investigations have revealed that the gang was involved in many sandalwood thefts in the district, Ganore further said.
A close shave

Pune: “If I could have managed to remove the keys from the jeep, we would have been able to nab all the suspects,” said police constable S N Swami.

“As the driver told us they were coming from Bhimashankar, we became suspicious. I tried to remove the keys from the ignition, but the driver started the jeep and increased its speed. My hand was stuck in the steering wheel, while my body was suspended outside the jeep.

I somehow managed to hold on to the wheel,” he said.
“One of them hit my hand with a weapon and due to the impact, I fell on the road,” Swami added. TNN

S N Swami



I T WAS in August last year that Bihar witnessed unprecedented floods when a breach occurred upstream of the Kosi barrage and the river suddenly changed its course — converting vast tracts of habitat into a 15 to 20 km wide sheet of water — flowing into some of its ancient channels.

The river was diverted back to the old course through the barrage on January 26, 2009 after restoring an about 2000 m long embankment which had breached.

Rajiv Sinha — a professor of geosciences at IIT Kanpur who has been studying the river for many years — now says that it is only a question of time before there is another breach and flooding from Kosi because the underlying conditions that led to the disaster remain the same.

Sinha says avulsion or sudden change in a river’s course happens when a threshold is crossed — when the cross valley slope is close to or more than the down valley slope.

The Kosi crossed this threshold last year primarily due to excessive deposition of sediment within the channel bed.

The river was literally flowing in a ‘ super- elevated’ position.

It changed its course because it found a new equilibrium.

“ By putting the river back, we have re- created the same ‘ unstable’ condition for the river and it is only a matter of time before the river crosses the threshold!

To the best of my knowledge, no major river training work has been carried out so far to create a more ‘ stable’ and ‘ favourable’ condition for the river to flow along the ‘ forced’ course”, Sinha has opined.

Andher Nagari: MCD Pit becomes a death trap

He survived an aircrash but not an MCD pit

The uncovered pit in Malviya Nagar that

77-year-old Trilok Makan (inset) fell into

LURKING DANGER: Several such pits have been dug up on this road

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New Delhi: Seventy-seven-year-old Trilok Nath Makan survived a plane crash in the ‘90s, only to die after falling into an eight-feet deep pit left uncovered by a callous MCD contractor right outside his south Delhi home.

Makan, who retired as additional private secretary to former Prime Minster Atal Behari Vajpayee, lived in B block of Shivalik road in Malviya Nagar.

He had stepped out to buy groceries from shops near his house at 8.15 pm on Friday. The pit on the divider, where work was underway to install new streetlights, was a deathtrap sans warning signs or barricade. To make matters worse, the area was dark because the power had been turned off while the streetlights were being installed.

Makan didn’t survive the fall, probably lapsing into unconscious right away and therefore unable to use his cellphone to seek help.

He suffered from a chronic cervical problem. The preliminary autopsy report suggests he died ‘due to the fall’. His body bore bruises on the head, neck and left temple.

But till late on Saturday night, a case had not been registered. A senior police officer said, “prima facie it looks like a case of negligence but there are chances that he might have suffered cardiac arrest and fallen into the pit.’’ Police are waiting for the postmortem report.

Reconstructing events, the police said Makan might have blinded by headlights as he emerged from the colony’s gate.

Divider was deathtrap with no streetlights MCD Orders Probe, Says Guilty Will Be Punished; Evidence Of Negligence Not Far To Seek

New Delhi: There was heavy traffic on Shivalik Road in Malviya Nagar where seventy-seven-year-old Trilok Nath Makan fell into a pit right outside his house. ‘‘There were no streetlights working on the road as power had been disconnected.

There is a possibility that he was blinded by the headlights of a vehicle and could not see the pit,’’ said a senior police officer.

Police said they were investigating the matter. Makan’s family had spent a sleepless night. When he did not return after half an hour, his wife, Jai, called up a family friend. ‘‘We started looking for him in the nearby areas and enquired from the shops outside the colony but failed to trace him. We then informed the police and several search parties were sent out,’’ said joint secretary of RWA Rajan Grover.

About 10 hours later, Makan’s body was spotted by the cashier of a grocery store, Abhishek Kumar, who informed the police at 6 am on Saturday. The body was taken to All India Institute of Medical Sciences where doctors declared him brought dead. Makan was the vice-president of the local RWA of B Block.

‘‘New streetlights are being installed on the stretch between Aurobindo College and Malviya Nagar. There are 22 such pits which have been dug and left like this for the past two weeks,’’ said a resident Jayant Choudhary.

MCD’s director (press and information) Deep Mathur told TOI that ‘‘public safety is of prime concern whenever digging or construction is carried out. The work at Shivalik is being carried out for Commonwealth Games. The contract for this work had been given to Sawaka Powertech Engineering Private Limited. We have directed the officials concerned to submit a written report within three days.’’

‘‘Our officials have examined the spot. If any lapse is found on the part of the contractor, he will be prosecuted as per the contract, and if it is a lapse on part of our officials, action will be initiated against them accordingly,’’ he said.

Makan is survived by his ailing wife. His two sons died in their teens due to illness, claimed Makan’s relatives. ‘‘His wife, Jai, cannot move and we are worried who will take care of her now,’ said Makan’s nephew, Sudhir Kalra.

Delhi HC orders compensation for bad roads

Court orders compensation for bad roads

July 7th, 2009 – 10:49 pm ICT by IANS

New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) Criticising authorities for not maintaining roads, Delhi High Court Tuesday directed the Delhi government to pay a compensation of Rs.6 lakh to a woman whose young son died after falling into a pit while riding a scooter.

“Loss of life because of negligence of state instrumentalities results in violation of right to life and liberty under Section 21 of the Indian constitution,” said Justice Sanjiv Khanna in the judgement.

“The authorities should be conscious and aware of their duty to maintain roads and ensure that the road surface does not have any pit so as to cause accidents, thus resulting in injuries and even loss of life,” the judge said.

Justice Khanna directed the government to pay Rs.628,000 within eight weeks to Madhu Kaur who filed a petition seeking compensation after her 24-year-old son Harpreet, a sales executive with a private company, died in a road accident May 4, 2006.

In the petition, she said that her son was riding a scooter with his brother on the pillion and the two-wheeler ran into a pit on the road near the Army Base Hospital at Naraina, resulting in fatal injuries.

She blamed the government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and sought compensation.

“It is the responsibility of road-owning agencies to ensure that the roads are maintained properly and repairs undertaken on time,” the court said.

“Even if they have entered into third-party contracts for maintenance, road users should not suffer injuries, fatal or otherwise, because of lack of maintenance, proper care and repairs,” it said.