The Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram organisation, which works for the welfare of 10 crore Scheduled Tribes in the country, in its national executive committee at Howrah took a resolution to address the issue of bonded labour in India.
Member S K Kaul, a retd IAS officer, brought a resolution regarding bonded labour prevailing in India even after 66 years of independence. The problems faced by Scheduled Tribes, who were being exploited as slaves, were highlighted at the meeting.
Estimates about the number of bonded labourers in India vary from 40 million people according to Human Rights Watch, to 11.7 million according to the International Labour Organisation. Every year in November brick kiln workers, mostly tribals migrate from Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to escape abject poverty.
This ‘distress migration’ of tribal workers from the districts of Bolangir, Koraput, Kalahandi, and Kandhamal is estimated to be at least 2 lakhs for work in brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh by an NGO.
The committee decided to appeal to the district administration to identify and rehabilitate bonded labourers. The executive committee also took a resolution and appealed to social activists and workers of the Kalyan Ashram to take up the matter at the local level.