Deputy Commissioner N. Jayaram, who also heads the district level vigilance committee, announced the formation of similar vigilance committees at the gram panchayat level to keep an eye on bonded labour.

Jeevika (Jeeta Vimukti Karnataka), an NGO engaged in campaigns on livelihood issues and the bonded labour system, welcomed the announcement and thanked the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr. Jayaram presided over the committee's maiden meeting here on Wednesday, and promised to constitute committees at subdivisional levels in the district soon, besides considering the rehabilitation of victims of bonded labour in Athani taluk and take measures to end bonded labour in the district.

Campaign

Jeevika district convener Basavaraj Hanchinmani and convener of the Chikkodi subdivision Shivganga Chandrappa Gadavar said their NGO was campaigning against the bonded labour since long but to no avail.

The formation of vigilance committees is not enough; these committees must actively check any instance of bonded labour and rehabilitate labourers.

Committee members drew the Deputy Commissioner’s attention towards bonded labourers in Athani and Bailhongal taluks.

Mr. Hanchinmani said the Deputy Commissioner had promised to rehabilitate 21 labourers from Bailhongal who had escaped their bonds and taken shelter in an anganwadi in Athani in February this year.

He would also look into the applications of nearly 200 bonded labourers in Bailhongal, which were pending since 2004. Mr. Jayaram promised to get statements from the bonded labourers in a “free and fair manner”.

Officials from the Departments of Revenue and Labour were present.

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