I am a journalist, working as Balangir correspondent of the English daily "The Pioneer" and “The Industry and Mines Observer”, an English fortnightly magazine published from Bhubneshwar. I was awarded the Trophy for "Excellence in Journalism" by noted Columnist Sri Shivaji Sarkar,in the presence of Editor in Chief -of The Pioneer,Dr Chandan Mitra ,Editor of The Industry and Mines Observer (IMO) Sri Sirish Mohanty on June19,2012.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
WESTERN DISTS: HUNDREDS OF BONDED LABOURERS DENIED REHAB Friday, 20 November 2015 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar
News in English daily the Pioneer
WESTERN DISTS: HUNDREDS OF BONDED LABOURERS DENIED REHAB
Friday, 20 November 2015 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar
Even though the rehabilitation of labourers, especially the bonded labourers who are certified to have been released, should receive top priority in getting due rehabilitation from the Government, that’s not happening.
As per the Bonded Labour Systems (Abolitions) Act 1976, a labourer released is entitled to get assistance of Rs20,000. While Rs1,000 is given on the spot, the rest Rs19,000 is given at later stage. The total amount of release assistance is shared by both the State and Central Governments on 50-50 basis.
In Odisha, most of the bonded labourers hail from ten backward and migration prone districts of western districts.
“So far 146 bonded labourers of Nuapada district are yet to receive their rehabilitation assistance. We have sent their proposal to the Panchayati Raj Department, which has been pending there since last one and a half years,” says a DRDA official of Nuapda.
In Balangir district, officially 94 proposals of bonded labourers, which include 38 males, 32 females and 24 children, are yet to receive their rehabilitation assistance and the same proposals are pending with the Panchayati Raj Department. In alahandi district, 54 bonded labourers are yet to receive their assistance, says activist Dilip Das of Kalahandi. Besides, Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada, in Bargarh district, unofficially the number of bonded labourers who are yet to receive their rehabilitation assistance stands at 104, said sources.
Notably, the rehabilitation assistance money of the rescued bonded labourers of Balangir district was pending with the Panchayati Raj Department for more than two years and after it was published in The Pioneer, it was put before the NHRC’s three-day camp court held at Bhubneswar on November 10-12, 2014. The NHRC issued notice to the Balangir Collector to take immediate steps for release of the money and as a consequence, a total of 251 bonded labourers were given rehabilitation assistance in two phases.
“By giving Rs19,000, the district administration believes that its responsibility is over. Whereas the bonded labourers should be rehabilitated with a comprehensive planning and by providing linkages with all the social security schemes, job work, land development and other programmes so that these labourers would live a decent living and would not migrate again. In Bargarh district, the district administration initiated steps to provide land to landless bonded labourers,” opines an NGO activist.
Moreover, the bonded labourers should receive priority in getting Indira Awas Yojana houses as mentioned in the guideline which is hardly followed, he adds.
There seems to be a gap between officials and people’s representatives of the region on the issue. “I was not appraised about the bonded labour assistance of 146 labourers pending at Bhubneshwar since last one and a half years. I would look into this issue,” says Nuapada MLA Basant Panda.
Apparently taking a cue from Balangir bonded labour getting assistance last year and peeved over the apathy of officials towards sanctioning of rehabilitation assistance money, people of Nuapada are contemplating to move the NHRC to get justice.
“We are going to submit a petition to the NHRC about bonded labourers of Nuapada district not getting their rehabilitation assistance money since last one and a half years,” says Fanindam Deo of Nuapada district to this correspondent.