Sunday, February 12, 2017

1.5L MIGRANTS FROM WEST, SOUTH ODISHA TO MISS VOTING Friday, 10 February 2017 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar 1

1.5L MIGRANTS FROM WEST, SOUTH ODISHA TO MISS VOTING
Friday, 10 February 2017 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar
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A large section of poor migrants in KBK and western Odisha are all likely to be deprived of their right to vote in the coming panchayat election as they are away from home in search of job in States like Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka etc.
Every year, around one lakh people from Balangir district alone migrate to the brick kilns of Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka to work there and earn bread.
The MGNREGA has virtually failed to arrest the trend of distress migration and bondage, thanks to untimely delay in wage payment to  labourers. Moreover as the labourers get some fat amount at a time from dalals/middlemen, they are unable to suppress the temptation and get ready to migrate.
Besides Bolangir district, migrant labourers from different parts of Nuapada, Kalahandi, Bargarh, Sonepur and Nabarangpur districts and from other areas are also found in large numbers moving to other States.
According to a NGO estimate, while around 80,000 people have migrated from Bolangir, it is 30,000 people from Nuapada district, 10,000 each from Bargarh district and Kalahandi and a few thousands from rest of the other districts totaling more than1.5lakh.

As per the estimates of a civil society organization, 2 lakh poor people from western and southern districts of Odisha migrate every year to different destination States over a period of six to eight months. 80 per cent of these migrant labourers are from tribal and Dalit communities whose journey start from October. They return after June of every year.
So, these people who are always being excluded from Government social security benefits like PDS, enrolment with AADHAR and NFA, they will again not be able to cast their votes during this election. Further, it will exclude them from larger benefits from the panchayat centric  development process, points out a civil society activist here.
In 2014 general elections, the Bolangir district administration set an example and brought back 2,492 migrant labourers from brick kilns of  other States thanks to combined initiative by this correspondent, then Collector M Muthukumar and SP R Prakash. Letters were issued to brick kiln owners of Andhra, Tamilnadu and Karnataka to relieve the workers during election. However, this time there has been no such effort.
According to reports some candidates in the migration prone districts are trying to call some migrant labourers to return home. But it is estimated that this could succeed to bring back only 5 per cent of migrant workforce or even less.

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court in 2013 urging the court to look into the problem and make necessary arrangement by issuing instruction to the States to ensure voting rights of the migrants, says Umi Daniel of Migration Information Resource Centre (MIRC) Bhubaneswar.

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