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NHRC calls for strict laws on bonded labour

Graphic: Two children working in a brick kiln

The National Human Rights Commission has expressed concern over the high incidence of bonded labour in Odisha.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed concern over the high incidence of bonded labour in Odisha and asked the state government to implement strict laws to eliminate the inhuman practice, the Times of India reported.

"There are certainly some gaps in implementation of the laws, which prohibit bonded labour in the state. We receive the second highest number of complaints of bonded labour from Odisha after Uttar Pradesh," NHRC member Justice D Murugeshan said.

Justice Murugeshan was speaking at a national-level workshop on the elimination of bonded labour organised by the NHRC.

He said that most of the complaints received from Odisha are regarding the 'bartan' system in which the upper caste employs lower caste families for menial labour jobs for a pittance, as low as 15kg rice a year.

"The 'bartan' system is a major violation of the human rights of a person. Government officers must be sensitive while identifying and rescuing bonded labourers. Rehabilitation of the rescued along with alternate employment is very important so they are not forced to migrate again," he added.

According to the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, Odisha has a total 6,353 bonded labourers of whom 5,413 have been legally freed.

Senior officers of the state government, representatives of the State Human Rights Commission, voluntary organisations, and representatives of brick kilns, stone crushers and other related industries participated in the day-long workshop.

Date: 13 January 2016

Source: Times of India/TNN


Image credits

  1. Two children working in a brick kiln - Made by Survivors, Flickr: http://bit.ly/1lbQ58Y