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Thursday, September 23, 2010

‘Launch comprehensive programme to prevent migration’

Sudhir Mishra
Even as the Government is claiming that poverty has reduced by 7.25 per cent and MNREGA has reduced distress migration in Odisha, incidence of migrations is rising not only from western parts of Odisha but also from all over the States to outside States namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and other places in search of jobs, only to face exploitation, torture and even losing their lives there.

The sordid tales of the migrants came to fore in a public hearing organised by Food Rights Collective, Odisha in collaboration with Agragamee and Samuhik Marui Pratikar Udyam, Balangir and Padampur on September 20 here.

I migrated to Karnataka along with my wife, son and brother four years ago through local sardar, said Kishore Parabhue of Tentelkhunti. I had no idea where we were going and we came to know only at the time of boarding a train. We worked in the brick kilns in Hassan district and faced constant torture and the owner did not allow us to leave. Somehow the members of International Justice Mission in Bangalore came to know about our conditions and rescued us, he narrated his sordid tale.

Every year around 20 lakh people are migrating from Odisha to Andhra Pardesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and other States. While a majority of people from coastal Odisha goes to Gujarat and other States, nearly three lakh people from western Odisha migrate to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka mainly to work in the brick kilns, says Umi Daniel of Migration Resource Information Centre, Bhubaneswar.

The number of migrants increases in drought years. Moreover, in recent times migration has increased from disturbed areas like Kandhmal where communal violence has taken place, he adds. I was working as an anganwadi worker in Katodi village in Tikabali block in Kandhamal district. The communal violence, which occurred in Kandhamal two years ago destroyed our homes and property and I am now eking out a living by working as a house maid in Bhubaneswar, said Premasila Digal. I appealed to all concerned officials to help me so that I can return to my home but I have been threatened by people there who say that they would kill me, she said sobbingly.

Not that migration is continuing from western Odisha only, but it also continues from primitive tribal districts. We were living in the Mahaliasahi village of Mayurbhanj district since the last 30 years and as Makadia tribes we live by collecting Siaali leaves. As the Forest Department has now put restrictions on collection of Siaali leaves, we don’t have any other job and we are forced to migrate to greener pastures. Last year five persons of our village had gone to work in Basudevpur of Bhadrak district and one of our members became ill and due to lack of treatment he succumbed to the illness, said Singaroy Mankadia.

People are migrating to other places as MNREGA work is not available in our village. I went to Hyderabad to work there and the contractor had assured me to give `3,000 per month but after arriving there I was forced to work for 14 hours per day, said Tutu Jani of Gunur village under Dasmantpur block of Koraput district. I worked there for three months and after three months, the owner kicked me out giving only `3,000 for 90 days of work, and that too after much protest, said Jani.

Besides this, incidences of exploitation, torture, and even rape of migrant workers are very common.

I along with my wife and some villagers had gone to Andhra Pradesh, said Kshirodra Tandi of Tukulapada village under Kumuna block of Nuapada district. After working there for a few days, owner of the brick kiln Kisan Seth raped my wife and he assaulted me when I protested. On the fateful night, he sent me back to Nuapada in a bus. My wife was rescued from his clutches after many days, he said.

We are organising the public hearing to sensitise people and the district administration that poor people are migrating and facing exploitation in spite of many Government programmes and social security schemes. The Government has a responsibility to ensure their livelihood, entitlement and human rights at work place and during migration, says leading social activist Achyut Das. An integrated comprehensive migration prevention progamme should be launched to ensure safe passage of migrant people, opines Das.

All the migration case studies coming out in the media should be documented and a public interest litigation (PIL) should be filed in the Odisha High Court. Moreover the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 should be amended so that migrants can get the benefits, observes Abani Mohan Panigrahi of Nuapada.

The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 should be more publicised so that people can become aware of it, opines senior journalist Sapan Bohidar. The registration of migrants should be given to the panchayats and as MNERGA is implementing job work, it can be utilised to prevent them from migrating by showing the amount of work available to them, points out an NGO worker.

The jury comprising of leading social activists of the State like Achyut Das, Sashi Prabha Bindhani, Dr Namita Patel, Sapan Kumar Bohidar and Puspanjali Satpathy critically examined the various testimonials

and suggested how the problem could be tackled. A State-level advocacy initiative should be initiated after the compilation of all the testimonies and suggestions should be placed to address the problems of migrants, opines Sanjaya Mishra.
courtsey: The pioneer

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