They belong to three Irula families at Pakkam in Villupuram district

Ten bonded labourers along with four children of three families in Villupuram district were rescued from a sugarcane field at Melapanaiyur near Tirumayam on Saturday.

The labourers consisted of six men and four women, and they all belonged to Pakkam village of Vanoor taluk in Villupuram district.

The release was effected following a complaint by Kanniappan, an activist of Tamil Nadu Adivasigal Peravai, who sought the intervention of the district administration.

C. Manoharan, Collector, directed R. Rajaram, Revenue Divisional Officer, to visit sugarcane fields in the village and trace the labourers.

According to official sources, the labourers belonged to three Irula families and each family had taken some money in advance, which ranges between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000 a few years ago from Pandurangan.

“The labourers had been leading a near-nomadic life due to frequent shifting of their camps from one sugar field to another for the past few years,” say officials.

But, the officials said that the labourers were not certain about the year when they had taken the advance money from Pandurangan.

Both Pandurangan and Nagarajan, who supply labourers to sugarcane fields, receive money from sugarcane field owners, but pay only paltry wages to labourers.

“They had exploited the labourers and paid a meagre daily wages of Rs. 20.

They, however, supplied rice to the labourers,” sources said.

A team of revenue and police officials went to the sugarcane field of P.L. Shanmugam at Melapanaiyur village and released the labourers.

Each adult member was given a relief of Rs. 1,000 and sent to Villupuram district.

Those released were R. Subramani (40), C. Subramani (32), M. Ramamurthy (60), V. Sait (40), V. Ramesh (32), V. Kasinathan (55), Muthulakshmy (35), Lakshmy (45), Devaki (30), and Shyamala (28).