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Monday, June 13, 2011

Tamilnadu brick kiln bonded labourers return home

Umi Daniel

While the country is preparing itself to observe International Labour Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organised by trade unions, government, and civil right activist groups for the cause of the laborers, 522 distress migrant workers are rescued from a SLG brick kiln in Bonthawakkam village of Ponneri taluk , 45 Km from Chennai, under Tiruvellur district of Tamilnadu by a joint rescue operation by the Tamil Nadu Revenue officials, International Justice Mission and Aide et Action on 28th April. These migrant labouers were kept under captivation by the brick kiln owner for last six months. They are mostly oriya migrants 495 are from migration prone districts of Orissa like Balangir, Nuapada, Rayagada and Nabrangpur, 19 are from Raipur and 8 are from UP . 170 children are under the age group of 0-14 years and 59 children between the age group of 15-18 years were working in the brick kiln.

74 families are from migration prone areas of Muribahal, Turikela and Titalgarh blocks of Balangir districts. 5 families are from Chandrapur block of Rayagada district. Khatiguda and Chandahandi block of Nabarangpur has 5 and 4 families respectively. Nuapada has 45 families mostly from Sinapali, Komna, Khariar and Boden block. One family each from Kalahandi and Koraput. Raipur and UP has 7 and 2 families respectively. Majority of the rescued labourers are from Dalit, Tribal and other backward classes. Five families are tribal castes, 57 families are dalits and 82 families are from other backward classes.

Due to the untimely rain in Chennai in the last fifteen days the brick making was stopped at the worksite. The owner did not pay for the food allowance in these days leaving the workers to starve. One of the escaped worker from UP informed the local Sarapanch of the incident. The Sarapanch alerted the district administration and local NGOs International Justice Mission and the volunteers of Aide et Action for appropriate action.

Many of them are sick while the children are the worst affected. The children are under fed and malnourished. After the rescue operation the local Revenue officer headed by Mr. Mr.Kandhasamy, RDO and Mr.M.Gandhi, Tehsildar has arranged a health camp to address immediate health needs and immediate food and shelter at the nearby higher secondary school. It is observed that many labourers are physically tortured as evident from the wounds and scars on their body. The Government of Tamilnadu has arranged a special bogie in the train to transport the freed bonded labourer to their respective destinations.

Six Aide et Action volunteers along with three Orissa labour dept officials escorted all the labourers back to their respective villages and efforts are on to facilitate their rehabilitation by the Government.

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