New Delhi: The rural development ministry has joined hands with non-governmental organisations to combat bonded labour in 10 districts across six states of the country.
The National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), a mission under the rural development ministry, Wednesday announced that it would join hands with NGOs and become an institutional partner of the "Bandhua 1947" campaign to combat bonded labour.
"We cannot say that we have abolished bonded labour. It may be true on paper, and we have laws on it, but we haven`t managed to finish it," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.
"Under the NRLM umbrella, we will begin pilot projects in 10 districts which are considered to have a substantial population of bonded labourers. We will locate the bonded labourers there, get surveys done, rehabilitate them and create conditions for alternative livelihoods," he said.
The NRLM will fund projects in the districts of Gaya (Bihar), Bastar and Kondagaon (Chhattisgarh), Bolangir and Naupada (Orissa), Gumla (Jharkhand), Prakasam and Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), and Kanchipuram and Vellore (Tamil Nadu).
It will help locate and rehabilitate bonded labourers by including them in self-help groups and their federations, with provision of soft loans and special projects for alternative livelihoods, including skill development interventions.
A point-person will be appointed at the state level for rehabilitation of bonded labourers, to monitor and ensure that goals are met and activities executed.
"The state missions will be the leading partners in this engagement, and coordination with other stakeholder departments and agencies at the state level will be ensured," Sarada Muraleedharan, chief operating officer, NRLM, said.
Bonded labour -- a pledge of labour in repayment of a loan or other debt, sometimes incurred even by members of the family in an earlier generation -- was abolished in India through the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.