Mumbai: Kandivli BMC school accused of using school children as child labour

Sep 13, 2018, 07:35 IST | Samiullah Khan

Activist spots Kandivli BMC schoolkids dangling from truck moving benches, is asked by a police officer: haven't you lifted desks for your school?

Mumbai: Kandivli BMC school accused of using school children as child labour
Students of the Ganesh Nagar BMC school were crammed into the tempo, while a few were perched on the ledge at the back

A BMC school in Kandivli has been accused of using 11 students as labourers to load and transport a consignment of heavy benches and desks in a tempo from another school around 10 km away.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Amit Keni, vibhag secretary of the MNS, spotted the children on the back of a truck, crammed in with several wooden desks and benches. What caught his attention was that the kids were in their school uniform. He followed the vehicle for about half a kilometre, trying to get to the bottom of the matter. He finally flagging down the driver near the Bata showroom on SV Road, Kandivli West. The driver told him that the kids were students of the Ganesh Nagar civic school.

Sources said the school had assigned 11 students from Std VI to VIII, along with four teachers and a guard, to move furniture from another BMC school in on Akurli Road, Kandivli East. There were about 50 wooden desks and benches in total, weighing a minimum of 500 kg.

'Dangerous, exploitative'
"The students were crammed into the vehicle. Due to lack of space, some of them tried balancing on the ledge at the back of the truck," said Keni. But when he tried to lodge a complaint against the school authorities, the on-duty officer shooed him away, stating, "Tumne kabhi apne school mein bench nahi uthaya kya?' (Didn't you ever lift benches in your school?)"

According to the watchman at the Ganesh Nagar civic school, The students were merely picked up because they were loitering on the streets
According to the watchman at the Ganesh Nagar civic school, The students were merely picked up because they were loitering on the streets

The officer eventually agreed to register an FIR, but Keni decided to inform MNS vibhag pramukh Dinesh Salvi about the matter first. With his help, the matter was brought to the notice of Senior Police Inspector Nitin Pondkule of Kandivli police station.

Salvi said, "We send our children to school for education, not so the management can use them as labourers. The school is responsible for the safety of students, but the administration sent the children in a tempo without the permission of their guardians. If the students had fallen victim to an accident, who would have been responsible?"

Officialspeak
Ashok Kahire, deputy municipal commissioner (DMC), said, "If this is true, it was very wrong, and action should be taken." Milind Sawant, DMC for education, was unavailable for comment. Mahesh Palkar, civic education officer, said, "The teacher did not ask the students to do any odd job; the benches are going to be used by students. We have to check whether the children willingly helped their teachers. There's nothing wrong with that."

Police say
ACP Dilip Yadav, Malvani division, said: "I am not aware of this matter. If a compliant has been registered, we will check for any negligence by the school administration and then take action accordingly."

14 years
Age of the oldest student on the truck

12 years
Age of the youngest student on the truck

Eleven
No. of students allegedly roped in to lift furniture

Fifty
No. of desks and benches they carried

500 kg
Estimated weight of total consignment

The other side
School headmistress Kalpana Singh was unavailable for comment, owing to the Ganesh festival holidays. A watchman at the school's gate, Vijay Dandekar, said that the furniture had been shifted by teachers and another guard, and they had merely picked up the students found loitering on the streets.

Also Read: Mumbai: 32 Percent Child Labourers Aged 14 And Below

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