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New Delhi:, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya on February 14, 2017, said that bonded labour can’t be eliminated merely by legislation and rules as change in attitude and feudal mindset of society will be necessary to end this scourge. He was addressing, as the Chief Guest, the two–day national seminar on Bonded Labour organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi. He said that the real challenge is how to stop the rescued bonded labourers from going back to bonded labour.

Emphasizing that the Centre is committed to eliminate bonded labour, Dattatreya highlighted the decision to increase the financial assistance of Rs 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh per adult male beneficiary under the Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme. He said that in order to avoid delay, the transfer of the amount to the beneficiary account will be done directly from District National Child Labour Project Society.

He said that, as per revised provisions, children including orphans or those rescued from organized and forced begging or other forms of forced child labour and women will be treated as special category beneficiaries and given Rs 2 lakh of financial assistance. Rs 3 lakh will be given in cases of bonded or forced labour involving extreme cases of deprivation or marginalization such as transgender, or woman or children rescued from ostensible sexual exploitation such as brothels, massage parlours, placement agencies or trafficking, or in cases of differently abled persons, according to an NHRC release. The above cash benefit would be in addition to other land and housing elements etc of the original scheme as provided by the district administration.

Earlier, in his inaugural address, NHRC chairperson Justice H L Dattu said that despite several laws, plans, policies, programmes and schemes, the records of national governance, public investment and development action yield little matching evidence of substantive work towards elimination of bonded labour. It amounts to an outright denial of unalienable human rights and is one of the worst kinds of violation of human rights. He  said a set of time bound targets should be fixed to help the poorest masses, the NHRC release said.

The NHRC Chairperson said that it would be wrong to think that bonded labour is a thing of past, as it can be found even today in not only agriculture but also in any sector of employment including brick-kilns, stone quarries, salt fields, leather manufacturing units and so on. He said that as long as there is poverty, unemployment, underemployment, landlessness, migration, indebtedness, the bonded labour system will continue.





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