BALANGIR: Around 30,000 children leave their homes in the drought prone districts of Balangir and Nuapada to work as migrant labourers in brick kilns in the State and elsewhere in the country.
In absence of any official information on the number of child labourers migrating and laws to curb the mance, they remain the most vulnerable section of the sector.
In fact, every third hand that moulds or carries a brick is that of a child, for whom there are no wage laws despite the fact that children are crucial players in the Rs 24,000 crore labour market.
With drought and no work under Government schemes available for poor families, they have no alterative but even engage minor in the hazardous business.
The advances that the families receive from labour sardars is divided into three parts, one going to the child. The child's share ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 1200. Infact, going by the sources, this is the only money that the child receives for eight to 10 hours of labour that he/she puts in each day for eight months a year.
The children are sent to work in kilns in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Karnataka with the middlemen, are left at the mercy of owners and are fed cooked broken rice porridge for lunch and dinner.
Social activist and trade union leader Lalit Kumar Naik said, when children travel to brick kilns, they miss school and have to repeat their classes next year and eventually they drop out. They are also constantly exposed to all kinds of hazards including furnace heat and physical and sexual abuse, said Naik.
Naik questioned what happens to the 20,000 children's share of rice in the Mid-day Meal scheme and Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan fund with the children gone and schools deserted. District Project Officer of SSA Dhananjay Mohapatra said, 134 seasonal hostelhave been opened in which 4823 children have been accommodated.
District Labour Officer Suresh Behera said, the State is taking the issue seriously and Labour Minister, Commissioner and other State-level senior officers are scheduled to visit the district to review the situation.