Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Patnagarh, Dec 24:
District administration officials in Odisha’s Balangir district today rescued 307 migrant labourers from a garden in Kudebhatta village under Belapada block. Those rescued include 103 men, 118 women and 86 children.
They were all kept hidden in a garden by some middlemen and were to be trafficked to some place outside the state to work as migrant labourers, said sources.
The middlemen have, however, managed to flee the spot and no arrests have been made so far, sources added.
On December 17, Patnagarh police had rescued 51 migrant labourers from Onrabad Chhak in the sub-divisional town of Patnagarh in the district. The rescued labourers hailing from Paikamal area in Bargarh district included 13 women and 12 children.
Despite several measures by the government to prevent distress migration of labourers, there has been little change in the situation. Balangir, a district with a poverty ridden populace, is notorious for trafficking of migrant labourers to other states.
On December 22, tthe state government had decided to identify and track migrant workers at the gram panchayat (GP) level for their welfare and safety.
In the first stage registration of migrant workmen at the gram panchayat level, the VLW (panchayat executive officer) will have to maintain a register in a format prescribed by the Labour and ESI department.
In a letter to Collectors of Balangir, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Gajapati, Ganjam, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Khurda, Panchayatiraj secretary D K Singh has said details of the migrant workers and their families will have to be kept at the gram panchayat level.
“For preparation of the action plan on safety and welfare of inter-State migrant workmen, a decision has been taken under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for taking further action at your end,” Singh told the Collectors.
“As the safety and welfare of the inter-State migrant workmen has assumed prime importance, it is requested to issue immediate instruction to all GPs under your control to maintain the register,” he said.
Besides the names of the workmen, the regsiter should also mention whether they are moving alone or with family members and children from their village. This should be followed so that the state government can take all possible measures for their safety and welfare and rescue them when the situation warrants, he said.
Singh said the register will maintain details like whether the family of migrant worker was covered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the home village. The responsibility of the registration of migrant workmen has been entrusted with the GP level functionary to ensure that it is done on a real time basis, he said.
The state government had decided to provide incentive to the VLWs for undertaking the task and funds required for the purpose would be made available in due course to cover local expenses by the Labour department. The registration of migrant workmen will have to be done in all the gram panchayats of the 11 districts which are migration prone, Singh said.
A majority of the workers of these districts move out to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala and Goa to work in construction industry and other sectors.