Health Minister and BJD vice-president Damodar Rout has again courted controversy by accusing Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh of stating half truths on the issue of bonded labour.
Rout’s statement came in reaction to a letter of Ramesh to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the bonded labour problem in Odisha.
Referring to the problem of migrant labour, the Union Minister had said that Odisha is one of the worst affected States.
Rout alleged that the Union Minister’s observation on the problem of bonded labourers was based on half truths.
Stating that Ramesh is not aware of the reality, the BJD vice-president said the Centre is implementing a scheme to eradicate the bonded labour system since long and it is nothing new.
Rout said most of the workers from Kalahandi and Balangir districts leaving for other States are not dadan labourers but job seekers seeking higher wages for their specialised skills like brick making on contract basis.
They are not ordinary labourers seeking earth work, he said.
The Minister said most of those workers are landless marginal farmers.
They migrate outside the State in search of jobs when agricultural operations are over, he said and claimed that they get `250 to `300 per day in brick making for their expertise.
These workers cannot be described as bonded labourers, he said.
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