Skip to main content

35 lakh Gujarat tribal migrants' freedom sought from "bondage-type" condition ahead of state assembly polls

By Our Representative
With an eye on influencing 27 reserved tribal of the Gujarat state assembly, three non-political organizations have together under the banner of Sthalantarit Adivasi Shramik Manch (SASM), putting up one-and-a-half dozen demands, insisting on steps to the taken to "free" migrant tribal workers from the allegedly bonded-like condition, both in cities and in rural areas.
Talking with newspersons in the presence of tens of tribal migrant workers, who have been working on construction sites in Ahmedabad, Vipul Pandya, who heads Bandhkam Majur Sangathan (BMS), said, the Supreme Court has clearly defined as to whom should one call bonded workers.
"A labourer is under bondage under the following four conditions: Absence of freedom to choose one's employment, denial of freedom to relinquish one's employment whenever desired, debt bondage, and less than minimum wage payment. Migrant workers are brought by contractors to cities to work on construction or brick kiln sites, or on agricultural fields. Many of them fullfil these criteria for being identified as bonded workers", Pandya said.
"The contractors pay a sum of Rs 15,000 or so as advance to a migrant workers' family to work on urban sites or agricultural farms. They are bound by the contractor's condition not to leave the job for the period from which they should work. While the contractor tells these families that they would be paid rest of the amount after the completion of the period of work, this is seldom done. The amount get is less than the minimum wages", Pandya said.
Apart from BMS, the two other migrant workers who have joined to form a common platform are Aajeevika Bureau and Majoor Adhikar Manch.
Claiming to be an influential force among the approximately 35 lakh migrant workers, most of whom come from the eastern tribal belt, SASM's yet another major is for having a separate legal redressal cell with judicial powers at the district level to deal with disputes related to minimum wages, non-payment of wages, caste-based discrimination, sexual harassments and violence, accidents and accidental deaths.
Then, SASM wants setting up of a 24x7 labour helpline to register cases and provide immediate relief to migrants in distress and bondage; relief of Rs 3,00,000 in case of accidental deaths through the Chief Minister’s funds; social security for families in their home villages; and provision of ration under the National Food Security Act, (wheat at Rs 2, Rice at Rs 3) through food coupons or mobile ration shops at the work site.
SASM has also demanded provision of 200 days of employment to women tribal migrants at the source villages through better implementation of MGNREGA, temporary labour colonies with basic facilities such as water, sanitation, health and education neasr the site of work, waiver of charges for luggage and children while migrating in buses; onsite educational facilities for children; and payment of wages directly in individual bank accounts.
Apart from this, Pandya said, "We are going to represent before the Election Commission to allow voting rights in the cities or rural areas where the tribals migrate to work. If NRIs are sought to be given voting rights, why not these workers, who build others' houses yet are landless."
Pandya further said, "We have come to know that Rs 1,700 crore under the Gujarat Building and other Construction Worker Welfare Board. Instead using these funds for the benefit of migrant workers, including their housing, health and nutrition, the state government has been using it, for instance, for housing sites of metro workers on Ahmedabad. This is especially unfortunate when most migrant workers don't have basic housing, and are forcibly removed from even the shanties where they live."
Talking with newspersons, migrant workers pointed towards how they live in inhuman conditions in cities. One of them, Anandiben, said that the authorities in Ahmedabad have forced her family, as well as others, to be moved from one place to another four times over the last two decades, but they have been refused a respectable place to live. "Currently we live on footpath in the Thaltej area, for which we must pay Rs 2,000 per month to a local strongman", she added.

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.