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Effective scheme for abolition of child labour sought

By Our Staff Reporter

TIRUCHI, NOV. 2 6. The Society for Abolition of Bondedness (SAB), a voluntary organisation working for rehabilitation of bonded labourers, has appealed to the Government to implement an effective scheme for the abolition of bonded labour in the State.

The organisation said that despite several legislations and efforts of the Government and voluntary organisations, the bonded labour system could not be eradicated completely. Mooting a plan of action to eradicate the social evil, the organisation called upon the Government to implement it. The document has been forwarded for suitable follow-up action, according to the Secretary, SAB, K.Chandrasekar.

The organisation maintained that employees who did not get minimum wages as per the Supreme Court guidelines were deemed to be bonded labourers. Many of the bonded labourers identified and rehabilitated have relapsed into the system again, the document claimed.

The bonded labour system still prevailed in various sectors including agriculture, artificial

gem-cutting, beedi rolling, weaving, quarries and brick kilns. A majority of these bonded labourers belonged to the Scheduled Castes.

Lenient and reluctant action against those perpetrating the system, lack of clarity in the Bonded Labour Act and loopholes in the law, lack of proper planning and follow-up in implementation of rehabilitation schemes and absence of coordinated efforts by different government agencies were some of the major reasons for the continuance of the bonded labour system.

Hence the document suggested appointment of Special Officers under the Department of Labour Welfare exclusively to deal with the issue in all districts. The officers should be granted adequate powers and manpower to end the bonded labour system.

Besides, stringent penal provisions should be formulated to make employers liable for three-year imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.2,000, if they perpetrated the bonded labour system. They should also be forced to bear the expenditure for rehabilitation of the bonded labourers released from their employment. In case of violation, provisions for attaching the properties of the offenders should be made. The Minimum Wages Act and the Labour Welfare Act should be enforced strictly.

The organisation also demanded the constitution of a special committee comprising representatives of judiciary, social activists and representatives of voluntary organisations, to formulate recommendations to tackle the problem.

A special fund should also be created to handle issues relating to bonded labour, the document said.

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