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Bihar: Work 12 hours a day, earn Rs 25

November 15, 2006 17:17 IST

In rural Bihar, hundreds of thousands of landless agricultural workers, earn as little as Rs 25 (about 50 cents) for 12 hours of hard labour. This was revealed in a report by D Bandopadhyay, chairman of the Land Reforms Commission.

This amount is 40 per cent less than the minimum wage -- Rs 68 a day -- fixed by the government. "Wherever I went, poor agricultural workers complained to me that they received a low wage of Rs 25," said Bandopadhyay.

In his report, submitted to the state government, Bandopadhyay said that poor agricultural workers were being exploited by land owners. He prepared the report after his extensive visit to the Jehanabad district in Bihar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar early this year set up the Land Reforms Commission to study land reforms in the state and asked the commission to submit its report on how to implement these reforms. Kumar wishes to fashion land reforms in Bihar on the lines of those in West Bengal.

Certain newsreports also state that Leftist groups are collecting a 10 'levy' from land owners at the cost of landless labourers.

"Some Leftist groups are collecting 10 percent of the agricultural produce as levy from land owners to allow them peaceful cultivation in areas where they have a commanding presence," Bandopadhyay, who is the brain behind land reforms in West Bengal, said in his report.

He pointed that due to this arrangement -- of 10 per cent levy -- there has been no effort by Left parties to fight for the implementation of minimum wages and help poor workers.

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna