Revenue officials headed by Gudur Sub-Collector J. Niwas conducted raids on brick kilns in Nayudupeta area and released about 53 Odisha bonded labourers from the clutches of the brick kiln operators.
The raids were conducted following complaints filed by the International Justice Mission (IJM). Among the rescued labourers were 21 children and all of them were escorted back to their native villages in Odisha with the help of officials.
In the presence of revenue officials, release certificates were distributed to the rescued labourers. As per the provisions, Rs. 1,000 each was given to the victims.
A penalty of Rs. 2 lakh was collected from the brick kiln owners as per the Inter State Migrant Act and the amount was distributed among the labourers. These migrant labourers are also entitled for displacement allowance.
The officials said that the bonded labourers were forced to work for long hours and children were no exception. But they were paid only Rs. 100 per person on a weekly basis.
This payment was also in violation of the minimum wages required to be paid by the owners. They were also denied the right to move freely.
“Because of the swift action taken by the officials, it was possible to rescue the bonded labourers.
They also arranged medical help for a critically-ill labourer at the time of the rescue that was laudable,” said Alice Suganya, director of Casework, IJM.
Migrant labourers from Odisha were becoming easy victims of bonded labour and all this has been happening because of extreme poverty and high debt conditions. Alienation due to caste issues was also driving these Odisha families to get trapped in the brick kilns outside their State.
Kantabanji town in Odisha is said to be the hub of the bonded labour trafficking. To eradicate this problem totally, IJM representatives said that the issue of bonded labour trafficking should be recognised and acknowledged by both the State and the Central governments.
They were escorted back to their native villages with the help of officials