Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare drought a national emergency and initiate child-centric relief measures to ensure they are not forced into child labour or trafficked or compelled to leave school.
He also demanded that the unspent amount in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, especially in public sector undertakings, be directed towards child-centric drought relief measures.
"Over 16.3 crore children from 10 states were affected by the severe drought situation. Owing to this drought and ongoing water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
"Reports of children being forced into child labour, trafficking, child marriage and the Devadasi system are coming to light with children increasingly dropping out from schools, discontinuation of mid-day meals and large scale migration due to this crisis," Satyarthi said.
He claimed that almost Rs 10,000 crore was lying unspent in the CSR funds, out of which Rs 3,600 crore were from public sector undertakings.
Stressing on the need for assessment of the impact of drought on children, Satyarthi said in the coming months, there is an increased risk of lakhs of children becoming victims of these circumstances.
"In this context, I urgently request you being the Prime Minister as well as the ex officio Chairperson of the National Disaster Management Authority to make children a top priority in all relief, rehabilitation work and take immediate measures to—declare drought as a national emergency, assess and analyse the effects of drought on children and ensure that no child in the drought affected areas is forced into child labour, bonded labour, child marriage, or is trafficked or compelled to leave school," he said.
Satyarthi also demanded a dedicated session of Parliament to discuss drought.
"There should at least be a dedicated session of Parliament to discuss drought and during that well know geographers and hydrologists should be called to find out a permanent solution to this perpetual problem of drought. There has to be utmost political will," he said.
"Hope the prime minister listens to the 'Mann ki Baat' of these 16.3 crore children," Satyarthi said.
According to Satyarthi's Bachpan Bachao Andolan, 35,873 children have gone missing, 22,014 abducted, 1,05,24,959 have been forced into child marriages while 74,84,416 have been pushed into child labour.
The figures, he said, were based on government records.