The National Human Rights Commission will hold its first-ever camp sitting in Chennai later this year over the issue of bonded labour.
The NHRC decided to hold the sitting after over 100 petitions were received from the State. Speaking on the sidelines of the State-level consultation of released bonded labourers organised in the city on Saturday by the National Adivasi Solidarity Council and the International Justice Mission, Human Rights defender at National Human Rights Commission, AK Parashar said that this could be the beginning of more NHRC camp sittings on the issue in various States.
“We decided to hold the sitting after over 100 petitions were received from Tamil Nadu on the violation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 . This will be the first- of-its-kind in the country. During the sitting, all the complainants would be heard on the issue of release and rehabilitation of the bonded labourers and recommendation would be made to the State government. We would also see whether the order of the Supreme Court on the issue has been followed. The NHRC has the power to take up the issue to the courts in case of non-acceptance of its recommendations,” he said.
Bonded labour prevention activists said the spurt in the complaints has been corresponding to the large violations of the 1976 Act, since 2001. “Since 2001, around 3,000 bonded labourers have been released in the State. The increase is attributed to the reduction of forests and forest-related livelihood on the one side and the thrust on urban development on the other.”
“Apart from rice mills and brick kilns, now we are seeing bonded labourers being included in the food processing industry, embroidery, cultivation industry, cotton mills, construction industry etc,” said Andy Griffiths, field office director, International Justice Mission.