14 labourers employed on rail project rescued from ‘bonded’ labour: Goa official
PANAJI: Fourteen labourers employed by a railway contractor for double-tracking work at Quepem in South Goa were rescued from ‘bonded’ labour by the Sub Divisional Magistrate on a complaint by the Telangana-based non-profit, National Adivasi Solidarity Council, people familiar with the matter said.
The council alleged that the labourers were trafficked to Goa and forced to work at lower than the minimum wage and denied other benefits due to them under the law.
The labourers, who were employed to work on the doubling of the railway track from Vasco to Karnataka, which is being staunchly opposed by environmental and anti-coal activists, were allegedly found to be staying next to the railway track in unhygienic conditions, without proper shelter and toilet.
“Some of the labourers were found to be as old as 72 years. The labourers complained about not receiving minimum wages, restrictions regarding returning home, no ESI - Provident Fund,” Arun Pandey of Anyay Rahit Zindagi, an NGO associated with their rescue, said.
The labourers were living along with their children in the makeshift shanties near the railway track.
Local officials said the labour contractor who arranged the labourers on behalf of the company contracted by the railways has been booked.