‘Haryana not responsible for poverty of other states’

April 13th, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by admin  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Prospering Haryana has washed its hands off the welfare of migrant labourers there, asserting it is not responsible for the poverty of other states, says a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report. “Haryana even today continues to take a stand that it is a rich and prosperous state and is not responsible if people are migrating to the state from poor and backward states in search of better livelihood, better wages and better quality of life,” said the NHRC report prepared by special rapporteur Laxmidhar Mishra.

The NHRC had sought information on migrant and bonded labour from all Indian states and steps taken for their welfare.

And, as per the NHRC report, this was the response it got from the Haryana government: “They (migrants) come of their own, they would go back of their own and Haryana is not responsible for their movement from one part of the territory of India to another.”

The report, a copy of which is with IANS, was submitted in February this year.

Migrants in Haryana are mainly engaged in brick kilns and often end up doing bonded labour. They are primarily from the states of Bihar, Rajasthan and eastern Uttar Pradesh. There are about 900 brick kilns in the 20 districts of Haryana with concentrations in Ambala, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad, Mahendergarh, Panchkula and Sirsa.

Last year the figures released by the labour ministry pegged the number of bonded labourers rescued from Haryana at 582. Though the figure is far lower than that in Orissa from where 50,029 labourers were rescued, the state’s stand has brought to the fore the plight of migrants.

Bonded labour is illegal in India and is defined as an unequal exchange relationship between a creditor and a debtor. A debtor is someone who needs financial resources for consumption or biological survival needs. A creditor is someone who provides money or loan in lieu of the debtor’s services.

Bonded labourers are usually denied wages or not given the minimum wages and sometimes entire families get trapped under the system.

Earlier, Haryana along with Punjab and Gujarat took a stand that there were no bonded labourers in these states. No budget was allocated for conducting a survey for identification of bonded labourers or for their rehabilitation after release.

This despite the fact there is a scheme completely funded by the centre for providing financial assistance of Rs.200,000 per district every three years.

The states believe that admitting to the existence of bonded labour would be a slur on the administration and bring discredit to them, the NHRC report said.

(Ritu Shama can be contacted at Ritu.s@ians.in)

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