Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rescued migrant workers get raw deal from Govt Wednesday, 13 January 2016 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar

News in English daily The Pioneer

Rescued migrant workers get raw deal from Govt

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 | SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR | in Bhubaneswar
The migrant bonded labourers after being released with certificates from brick kilns and other work sites are not getting adequate compensation as per rules, thanks to apathy of the officials.

Among the poor bonded labourers, it is the migrant bonded labourers who suffer the most. The poor migrant bonded labourers from western parts of Odisha and KBK region are very prone to distress migration. They move to brick kilns of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other districts for more than six months by taking advance and work there for long hours. However, at the work sites they are tortured and harassed. Minimum facilities are not found at the work sites as per different laws, including Labour laws.

 “I had gone to a brick kiln of Andhra Pradesh in 2012 to work as a labourer. But I along with many others was rescued and given release certificate after some time. We were assured of payment of Rs 19, 000 at home. However, after returning home, I approached the local block officials and was told to contact both BDO and WEO to get the rehabilitation assistance. I submitted papers to them but till today, I have not received the money,” lamented Ragu Deep of Dumerpitha village of Deogaon block.

Dhuba Chinagur of Saan Patrapali of Naren gram panchayat of Titilagarh also had similar version.

“I was rescued from a brick kiln of Tamil Nadu in 2011.  After returning here, I submitted the documents to the block officials for my rehabilitation assistance. However, they did not listen to us.”

These migrant bonded labourers usually return home with virtually no money with them as most of them exhaust/adjust their wage earned towards advance taken from Dalals and middlemen. Besides facing a lot of problems in the worksite and absence of minimum facility, they also are meted out with torture and exploitation by the brick kiln owners at the worksite, said an activist.

As per the Bonded Labour Systems (Abolition) Act 1976, these legally released bonded labourers are entitled to receive rehabilitation assistance of Rs 20,000. While Rs 1,000 should be given on the spot of release, the rest Rs 19, 000 should be given to them in their home place. While giving livelihood assistance, the district administration should also prepare a comprehensive livelihood plan and steps should be taken so that the bonded labourers do not return to bondage situation again.

The rehabilitation assistance amount is shared by both the State and Central Governments. While the State Government contributes 50 per cent of the assistance, the rest 50 per cent is borne by the Central Government, pointed out a civil society activist.

In Balangir district, officially 127 proposals of bonded labourers are yet to receive their rehabilitation assistance and the same proposals are pending with the Panchayati Raj Department. In Kalahandi district, 54 bonded labourers are yet to receive their assistance, said activist Dilip Das of Kalahandi.

In Nuapada district, 146 labourers are yet to get their assistance and their proposal has been pending with Panchayati Raj department for more than a year.

In Bargarh district, unofficially the number of bonded labourers who are yet to receive their rehabilitation assistance stands at 93, said sources. In the whole of Odisha, unofficially, there are a total of 1,208 bonded labourers out of which 675 have received rehabilitation assistance and533 are yet to receive it. Unofficially in Balangir district (269), in Nuapada (124,) in Sonepur (15), in Nawrangpur (5), in Sambalpur (12), in Gajapati (8) and in Rayagada (7) bonded labourers are yet to receive their assistance.

“At times we get incomplete proposals for rehabilitation of bonded labourers by BDOs. They do not submit the proposal in proper way. To get rehabilitation assistance, the rehabilitation assistance application should come to us with Xerox copy of release certificate, voter I- card etc. Very often incomplete application are sent to us which makes it difficult for us to send the proposal to State level and we once again send them to BDOs to comply with properly. Many BDOs simply sit over those proposals,” said an official requesting anonymity.

Moreover the district level Bonded Labour monitoring committee and sub-divisional committee are in defunct stage. They hardly meet regularly. Even when the meeting is convened only a few members turn up. The committee at district and sub divisional level should be reconstituted to make it functional to tackle the issue effectively, pointed out an activist.

The quantum of assistance of Rs 20,000given to released bonded labourers was fixed in 1976. It should be hiked to at least Rs 40,000 in view of rise in prices of all commodities, pointed out a civil society activist.

Moreover, the bonded labourers should receive priority in getting Indira Awas Yojana houses, along with comprehensive livelihood planning, the activist added.

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