Nepal | July 07, 2020

Minors found working for Melamchi Water Supply Project

Thomas Bogaty
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A child (centre) working in front of the Nepal Electricity Authority in Old Bus Park in Kathmandu on Thursday, September 3, 2015.

A child (centre) working in front of the Nepal Electricity Authority in Old Bus Park in Kathmandu on Thursday, September 3, 2015. Photo: Thomas Bogaty/THT

Kathmandu, September 3

These days young teens can be spotted laying pipelines for Melamchi Water Supply Project.

Digging the ground to expand the drinking water pipelines requires hefty manual labour, but these teens are seen working from 6:00 am-7:00 pm daily under the scorching sun.

Rabi Tamang, 14, of Sindhuli, has been working for MWSP for about a month. He was spotted digging the concrete pavement with pickaxe and removing the debris with spade and hands at Ghattekulo without wearing any safety gear.

“My brothers arranged this job for me. I dig about seven metres of concrete ground everyday and earn

Rs 700,” he said, adding that his parents live with his two siblings in the village. But adults working with him claimed they were earning Rs 150-200 digging per metre of concrete ground.

Bishal Rai, 16, of Dhankuta said the villagers helped him get the work of laying pipelines in front of the Nepal Electricity Authority. “The villagers working for MWSP persuaded me to work. I have been digging for at least 25 days now,” he said, adding he was a tenth grade dropout.

The contractor said labourers bring children to work with them. “Children are paid accordingly and they are allowed to decide if they want to stop working,” a contractor said. The contractor, however, said that they had not forced children into any kind of labor.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1999, prohibits child labour and regulates hours of work for children aged 14-16. Further, it prohibits the engagement of children below 14 in any kind of employment.

Officials at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare said a case would be filed against the Melamchi Drinking Water Supply Project if it does not stop employing minors for construction work.

A version of this article appears in print on September 04, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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