BALANGIR: With the State Government having no plan to address the issue of child migration, a whopping over 30,000 children are estimated to be leaving their homes in Balangir and Nuapada districts to work as migrant labourers in brick kilns across the country every year.
Sources said the number could be more as there is no record of migrant labourers with the authorities concerned. What’s worse is that children working in brick kilns are not paid wages by the owners.Purna Chandra Panda, a social activist said labour agents exploit children by telling their parents that certain jobs at brick kilns can be performed only by those who are not tall and have small hands.
However, they just want to ensure the cost of input in brick kilns is kept low by hiring such workforce. Children of migrant labourers drop out of schools every year for a few months which eventually leads to their complete exclusion from studies.
“This is how their futures are sealed and the path is paved for the next generation of migrant labourers and continuance of this vicious circle,” he said.
Shortage of seasonal hostels and absence of a plan to address the issue has aggravated the crisis in the district. Social activist and trade union leader Lalit Kumar Naik said such children often join the stream of cheap migrant work force once they grow up. “The need for effective policy to address migration of child workers cannot be overestimated,” he said.
However, Prashant Saraf, an official of Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan said the district administration will soon opened several seasonal hostels in the district where around 3,500 children will be accommodated.
At present, 42 such facilities are functioning in the district where around 2,000 children have been accommodated.
District Labour Officer SK Behera said the number of children migrating from Balangir could be less than estimated. He said efforts are on to register all labourers in the district and to provide them with jobs under MGNREGA. Besides, more schools for children of labourers will soon be opened.