Even as reports of people being forced into bonded labour kept pouring in from different districts, the State government continued to adopt apathetic approach on the issue, alleged experts, social activists and victims here on Saturday.

According to Supreme Court verdict, vigilance committee in district level has to be put in place and regular survey to ascertain presence of bonded labourers in respective areas should be carried out.

The Apex Court directive is hardly followed in letter and spirit.

Laxmidhar Mishra, former Union Labour Secretary who had done extensive research on labour issues, said “in many district vigilance committees on bonded labour have not been constituted. Vigilance committees hardly give any field report on bonded labour.”

“Vigilance committee members have hardly undergone any training. Besides, orientation of other stakeholders such judicial magistrates, district magistrates and labour officers on the issue of bonded labour is grossly inadequate,” Dr. Mishra, who was former Special Rapporteur of National Human Rights Commission, pointed out.

20-point programme

“The issue was a part of Indira Gandhi’s 20 point programme but it has been almost 30 years now but one cannot see major changes in system of bonded labour.

It is evident that despite huge contribution by the tribal population to the GDP of the economy, it is hardly preventing them from falling into bondage,” he said adding implementation of bonded labour laws required collective effort.

Member of Board of Revenue Aurobindo Behera emphasised on need for change in attitude of people dealing with sensitive issues.

“Today’s bonded labourers are often no better off than their more familiar predecessors. Indeed, in many cases, their lives are more brutal and hazardous,” said Umi Daniel of regional head of Aide et Action, a voluntary organisation working on bonded labour issues.