Saturday, June 4, 2011

Odisha, C’garh, UP migrants rescued from TN brick kilns May 01, 2011 2:32:25 AM

BHUBANESWAR | Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Email | Print | | Back

Odisha, C’garh, UP migrants rescued from TN brick kilns
May 01, 2011 2:32:25 AM


In a mind-boggling revelation of the multi-faceted dynamics of the inter-State migration, 522 migrant labourers of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and even from Uttar Pradesh (UP) were reportedly rescued from a brick kilns near Chennai in Tamil Nadu on April 28.

According to reports, the 522 distress migrant workers were rescued from one SLG Brick Kiln in Bonthawakkam village of Ponneri Taluk, 45-km away from Chennai and under Tiruvellur district, following a joint operation launched by the TN Revenue officials, International Justice Mission and Aide et Action on Thursday.

Out of the 522 rescued, 495 are Odias from the migration-prone districts of Balangir, Nuapada, Rayagada and Nabarangpur while 19 are from Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and eight are from UP, including 170 children under the age group of 0-14 years and 59 children between the age group of 15-18 years, informed Aide et Action South Asian Head Umi Daniel.

Majority of them are Dalits, tribals and of other backward classes. There are five tribal families, 57 Dalit families and 82 families belonging to other backward classes, Daniel added.

Due to the untimely rain in Chennai in the last fifteen days, the brick-making was stopped at the worksite and the owner did not pay for the food allowance in the off days leaving them to starve. Even they were kept under captivation by the owner for the last six months, Daniel revealed.

One of the UP workers managed to escape and informed the local Sarpanch, who alerted the district administration and local NGO International Justice Mission and the volunteers of Aide et Action for appropriate action.

Many of them are sick while the children are underfed and malnourished.

After the rescue operation, the local Revenue officials headed by Revenue Division Officer (RDO) Kandhasamy and Tehsildar M Gandhi arranged a health camp to address their immediate health needs besides immediate food and shelter at the nearby higher secondary school there.

It is observed that many labourers are physically tortured as evident from the wounds and scars on their body. As per the revenue officials, the rescued families had got advance money ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 7,000 last year through a middle man of Kantabanjhi block, the migration source area of Balangir district.

Initially, they were promised good pay and food, but were not paid as per the promise and were not even given food for many days.

They also complained that they were not given food for the last fifteen days just prior to the rescue operation and were physically tortured by the goons of the brick kiln owner whenever they dared to go out.

They were made to work late hours in the brick chambers between 6 pm and 4 am and in the day time, they had to frame and dry brick in the sun. Tiruvellur District Collector DP Rajesh declared 371 labourers as bonded labour and issued certificate thereof.

While distributing the release certificates, the Collector said that the loan which the people have borrowed from the brick kiln owners stands nullified and they are free from the bondage.

Under the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act-1976, there is a provision for providing Rs 20,000 each bonded labourer for rehabilitation.

Ponneri RDO S Kandaswamy said that they would give Rs 1,000 each as immediate relief and the balance amount from the Government of India support for the released bonded labourers will be paid by the Odisha Government once they reach there.

The TN Labour Department has informed its Odisha counterpart while three senior district labour officers have rushed there to facilitate the repatriation of the freed labourers. Both the International Justice Mission and Aide et Action field functionaries in Tamil Nadu are working closely with the Government for the repatriation.

According to latest information, the rescued migrants are being sent to their respective home districts through three special train bogies.

While one bogy will be attached to the Dhanbad Express, another will carry them to Vyjayanagaram to be attached to the Hyderabad-Sambalpur Express and the third bogy will also be attached to the Dhanbad Express.

The 138 migrants of Nuapada district are scheduled to reach Titilagarh on Sunday.

As per the 2001 Census, more than seven lakh population in Odisha has been shown as migrant labourers while informal studies indicate a dismal figure of 20 lakh population as migrants, particularly from western and southern regions of Odisha.

Most of the migrations in these regions are due to debt, distress and non- registration of inter-State migrant workers and thus, giving the middlemen and kiln owners a freehand to extract cheap labour through unscrupulous practice, said Daniel.

He also stated that rapid industrialisation and urbanisation due to neo-liberal policies have also contributed to migration of the poor from rural Odisha.

The failure of the Government’s social security measures and rising unemployment pushing large scale of migration to various cities in and out of Odisha.

There is huge gap between the policy initiatives and the ground reality. There is also no clear-cut policy on migration both at the national and State levels besides the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act-1979.

As this Act only deals with the problems of inter-State migrants where as there are huge number of migrants within the State who are not covered by any special Act or policy and are languishing due to exploitation, observed Daniel.


1 comment:

  1. what of the owner of the brick kiln, is he in jail?