New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the inhuman treatment meted out to bonded labourers in Odisha, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has written a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informing him about inclusion of two districts under the Centre`s programme to rehabilitate them.
The districts of Balangir and Bargarh have been identified as two districts under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) where the bonded labourers will be rehabilitated and alternative livelihood will be provided to them.
"I look forward to working with the state government to put an end to this horrendous social evil," Ramesh said in a letter to Patnaik, describing Odisha as one of the worst affected states as far as bonded labour is concerned.
His letter comes in the backdrop of an incident in the state where the hands of some labourers were chopped off by labour contractors recently after they refused to travel to Chhattishgarh for work in a brick kiln.
Referring to this incident, Ramesh urged the Chief Minister to leave the political differences behind and work together in the larger interest of this affected section.
The Centre had recently identified 10 critically vulnerable districts across the country for rehabilitation of the bonded labourers under the NRLM mission.
The ten districts are Gaya in Bihar, Bastar and Kondagaon in Chattisgarh, Prakasam and Chittur in Andhra Pradesh, Kanchipuram and Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Balangir and Bargarh in Odisha and Gumla in Jharkhand.
Under NRLM umbrella and through women self-help groups, the government will initiate rehabilitation projects. These groups will join hands with several NGOs and NRLM will become an institutional partner of the "Bandhua 1947 campaign" to combat bonded labour.
Bandhua 1947 is a national-level campaign in India aimed at mobilising people to advocate with their governments to protect millions currently vulnerable to bonded labour and fight for their rights.