HYDERABAD: Around two lakh people migrate from Balangir district in Odisha to Telangana every year to work in the brick kiln industry, according to a survey conducted by Youth Service Centre (YCS), an Odisha-based non-governmental organisation (NGO).
“Brick kiln owners employ contractors who go around villages and gather people who are willing to migrate and work for them. They pay them some money in advance and the entire family, from then on, follows the will of the contractor. Children too are forced to work as support for the family members and they are the ones who suffer the most in this process,” said Umesh Purohit, executive director of YCS on Tuesday. As the influx of migrant labour into Telangana state from Odisha is higher than in the case of other states, the NGO has put forth a demand for safeguarding the rights of children and aiding their protection by a sort of an MoU among the states to enable migrant child workers to benefit from the health and education schemes available. “From the moment they start their journey, which is normally more than one day, crammed in general compartments of trains, these children are susceptible to danger and disease. They are then employed in harsh and hazardous conditions in the brick kilns that put their life at risk. Their future is also at stake as they have no access to schools or learning centres,” added Umesh.
An MoU on protection of these children was signed in 2011 between Andhra Pradesh and Orissabut has became invalid after the bifurcation. “There was a process in place that registered and tracked migrant labourers are provided nutritious food and education according to the Right to Education Act. This we did in coordination with the women & child welfare, and labour welfare departments. We also gave students certificates so that they can pursue their education once they go back home in May,” said Shyamala Ashok of Migrant Children Protection Centre.