Monday, June 16, 2014

Over one lakh Odia workers migrated to other States in 2014

Over one lakh workers from the State have been sent through middlemen to work in other States in 2014, Odisha Legislative Assembly was informed here on Friday.
In response to a query of Congress legislator Naba Kishore Das, Labour and State Employees Insurance Corporation Minister Prafulla Mallick updated that as on March this year, 1,19,001 migrant workers were sent to other State through 3,044 labour agents under Interstate Migrant Workmen Act 1979.
Researchers, however, termed the figure as grossly under reported. They said over 3 lakh labourers including minor children from western Odisha districts had gone to work in brick kilns in States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“During past two years, 726 migrant workers were rescued from workplace outside the State. Under Interstate Migrant Workmen Act 1979, as many as 159 criminal cases were filed during past five years,” Mr. Mallick said.
The statistics presented in the Assembly points out highest 32,487 migrant workers from Bolangir had been engaged in other States by labour agents while 20,233 workers had gone from Khurda district.
The government information makes it clear that district administrations in western Odisha districts had no clue as to how many poverty stricken people migrated to other States in search of jobs. From last part of 2013 till March 2014, district police and labour department officials had tracked hundreds of migrant workers who were being sent to other States in Nuapada alone.
“We think more than 3 lakh workers from western Odisha districts migrate to other States, mostly through unregistered labour agents. These workers are forced to work in inhospitable condition and any form of protest by workers often leads to torture by employers,” said Umi Daniel, head of Migration Information and Resource Centre (MiRC), Aide et Action South Asia.
Mr. Daniel said, “Odisha surely sends more than 20 lakh migrant workers every year. While a large number of workers from Ganjam migrate to States like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, destinations of workers from western Odisha are mostly brick kilns of southern States.”
He said the official figure on rescue of distressed workers also did not give a clear picture of hopeless situation the migrant workers were in. “Compared to 726 migrant workers claimed to be rescued by Odisha government, Tamil Nadu, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka had officially released more than 1400 workers after identifying them as bonded labourers.”
State Labour Minister said government was taking steps to provide a toll free numbers to register grievances of migrant workers who work in distress condition.

The Hindu: June 14, 2014 00:00 IST | Updated: June 14, 2014 05:39 IST

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