After taking stern action against illegal slaughterhouses, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has now decided to wage a war against bonded labour prevalent in brick kilns, mines and quarries.
According to a missive from chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, district magistrates have been instructed to crack down on all such set-ups engaged in bonded labour.
- UP has over 17,000 brick kilns, including 384 in Gorakhpur, 216 in Varanasi, 407 in Allahabad, 360 in Lucknow, 308 in Barabanki and 234 in Meerut and hundreds of quarries and mines where many bonded labourers work in appalling conditions.
- During 2015-16, 2,216 bonded labourers were freed and rehabilitated in UP but no bonded labourers were rescued and rehabilitated during the 2016-17 fiscal.
Clearly pointing out that the onus of implementing provision of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 was on the DMs as well as the sub divisional magistrates and additional district magistrates under them, the missive dated March 30 ordered the DMs to identify bonded labourers in their districts and take steps to free and rehabilitate them besides ensuring lodging of FIRs against the persons indulging in such criminal activity.
The missive also instructed the DMs to hold monthly prosecution review meetings to ensure timely submissions of charge-sheets in such cases as well as staff meetings to oversee progress of summary trails in courts of ADMs.
All DMs will have to send details of bonded labourers identified, freed and rehabilitated in their districts as well as FIRs and prosecution of the accused, to the labour commissioner, UP, on the 5th of every month.
The immediate assistance to rescued bonded labourers was hiked to Rs 20,000 from Rs 5,000 with effect from January 17, 2017.
“Typically poor migrant workers are recruited with job offers by agents, who trap them by extending advance on earnings, which turns out to be a loan at exorbitant interest that no worker can afford to repay. The agent then suggests that the worker bring his wife and children, and soon the entire family is enslaved. Unpaid debts can be bequeathed from one generation to the next,” shared Prof Badri Narayan of Allahabad University’s GB Pant Social Science Institute.