Expressing shock over the chopping of palms of two migrant labourers on December 15 this year, the Centre has informed the State Government that it would implement a special livelihood project under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) to put an end to the horrendous social evil of bonded labour.
In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said the Centre would implement NRLM to mitigate the plight of the bonded labourers.
Odisha Government has announced compensation to each of the victims, he said and added, “keeping aside politics, we must acknowledge that Odisha is one of the worst affected States on the issue of bonded labour.”
Balangir and Nuapada districts are among the 10 vulnerable ones in the country where the scheme will be implemented, Ramesh said. The NRLM will join hands with NGOs to become an institutional partner of the ‘Bandhua (bondage in Hindi) Campaign, 1947’ to combat bonded labour.
The State missions or SRLMs will be the leading partners in this engagement and coordination with other stakeholders and agencies at the State level will be ensured.
Admitting that a number of people are still enslaved four decades after India enacted the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976, Ramesh said under the NRLM umbrella, the Rural Development Ministry would begin pilot projects in 10 vulnerable districts to identify bonded labourers and take adequate measures to provide them alternative livelihood and ensure their proper rehabilitation. The pilot projects would help identify and rehabilitate bonded labourers by including them in self-help groups and their federations, provision of soft loans and vulnerability reduction funds and special projects for alternative livelihoods including skill development interventions for them.