MP Govt delayed aid to freed bonded workers, NHRC told

MUMBAI: Shramajivi Sanghatana, a Mumbai-based organisation involved in release of bonded labourers, has lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against the Madhya Pradesh Government for forcing 17 freed families to stay in inhuman conditions.

In a complaint lodged with the NHRC today, Sanghatana leader Vivek Pandit _ a member of the NHRC's panel on bonded labourers _ has alleged that the district administration of Vidisha in MP showed little interest in rehabilitating 63 families freed at Ganj Basoda in December last. As a result, 46 families left the area in search of livelihood while rest of the 17 families stayed back waiting for the aid from the government for which the latter is bound by law.

On June 1 when Pandit visited the area, he found that the released labourers were staying in inhuman conditions. They were not even having a solid roof on their heads, but just plastic sheets and all their belonging were getting wet in the rain. A lady had delivered a girl child amidst the rains and the mother and child barely survived. All their children were malnourished and suffering from diseases. In fact, most of the families were practically facing starvation.

He has also alleged that local district collector Veera Rana blatantly blamed the State and Central Government for not providing sufficient funds to give shelter to the freed labourers.

Significantly, the chief secretary of the state, in response to a petition, has claimed that the rehabilitation of the bonded labourers is complete, he said.

``When we pointed out that there was provision for paying Rs 6,250 per family for temporary shelter under the Atrocities Act, she simply told us that she was not our servant,'' he has alleged in the complaint.

He has demanded immediate temporary shelter for all 17 families and initiation of a long-term rehabilitation programme. Also, stern action be taken against the district collector for negligence against the bonded labourers.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 6, 2001
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