Drive launched to control rampant migration in Sundargarh
Local agents who are either distant relatives of the victims or acquaintances lure them with promise of job and decent pay.
ROURKELA: In a bid to restrict large scale migration of labours including illegal trafficking of tribal girls and women from the tribal-dominated district, Sundargarh administration and the Labour department initiated a two-day awareness drive on Thursday.
As per sources, during the drive, a vehicle travelled to the migration-prone blocks of the district to educate people on practice of safe migration for employment. They were informed about toll free telephone numbers of the Odisha government to seek help within Odisha or outside Odisha, informed district labour officer (DLO) Dibyajyoti Nayak. “Subsequently awareness meetings would be held and migrant workers urged to inform respective sarpanchs, police or labour officials before leaving home state,” he added.
Rourkela-based joint labour commissioner (JLC) Pranab Jena said sensitisation of migrant workers is key to protect them from exploitation at workplaces, adding, the effort is to educate them on their rights under the provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979.
As per records, migration of tribal workforce is concentrated in Sundargarh sub-division with male workers mostly seeking fishing jobs in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Tamil Nadu, while tribal female workers normally prefer major cities of the country. Rural workforce from Panposh and Bonai sub-divisions also travel to different parts of the country for varied jobs.
Sources said, due to poverty, minor tribal girls become most vulnerable to illegal human trafficking. Local agents who are either distant relatives of the victims or acquaintances lure them with promise of job and decent pay. There are instances galore where victims voluntarily drop out of schools and leave for greener pastures only to face sexual, mental and financial exploitation.
However, the district still lacks integrated mechanism to store data of the migrant workers for easy and timely access and the district labour office has no official records on migrant workers as not a single labour licence was issued to labour contractor under the Act.
During the COVID-19 pandemic about 40,000 workers had registered themselves to return to Sundargarh, but the actual number of migrant workers could be much higher in a district with 22.47 lakh population.