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Rescued 66 Orissa labourers return home

Rescued from degrading work conditions in an Andhra Pradesh brick kiln, 66 migrant labourers from Orissa returned home on Friday night.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2010 13:45 IST
Priya Ranjan Sahu
Priya Ranjan Sahu
Hindustan Times

Rescued from degrading work conditions in an Andhra Pradesh brick kiln, 66 migrant labourers from Orissa returned home on Friday night.

The labourers were made to work in the brick kiln at village Srinivas Mangapuram (Chittoor district) for a minimum 16 hours a day without proportionate pay and medical care.

The Andhra Pradesh police rescued the labourers – 35 adults and 31 minors belonging to 23 families – on May 24 following a complaint by Bangalore-based rights body International Justice Mission (IJM). The police also lodged a complaint against kiln owner KV Chaudhary, who's absconding.

Volunteers of the international Aide et Action (AeA) helped IJM bring the migrants home on the Alleppy-Dhanbad Express train. The labourers belong to Nuapada, Sonepur, Balangir and Bargarh districts of western Orissa.

The migrants had gone to Andhra Pradesh five months ago to work in the brick kiln. “We were tortured there,” said Bhuia Majhi (32) at Titlagarh railway station, some 500 km west of Orissa capital Bhubaneswar.

The workload was so heavy that many labourers developed health complications, added Majhi before heading for his native Khatibadi village in Nuapada district,

Kirtan Pandey (50) and his wife, Kiya (48), got down at Balangir railway station, 450 km west of Bhubaneswar, to proceed to Tamamara village in adjoining Sonepur district. “We were forced to work 16-17 hours,” he said, vowing not to leave his village again.

Umi Daniel, South Asia head of AeA’s migration unit said many of the labourers needed immediate medical attention. “The Orissa government should take note of the distress faced by Oriya migrant workers in other states and come up with a proper policy to address it,” he told HT.

The government, said Orissa Minister of State for Labour Pushpendra Singh Deo, was keeping an eye on the migrants issue. “We have been asking labourers to register with the district labour officer (DLO) before migrating. But many migrate without informing the administration and it becomes difficult to enforce laws safeguarding their rights,” he said.

Singh Deo added that he directed officials in the districts concerned to rehabilitate the rescued labourers.

Every year, more than 100,000 labourers, mostly from Balangir and Nuapada, migrate to brick kilns in Andhra Pradesh. Last year, less than 1,500 labourers had registered themselves with the DLO. Middlemen, officials said, deter most labourers from registering.

First Published: Jun 06, 2010 13:41 IST