When our country can abolish social evils like Sati System, why not we eradicate Bonded Labour, says Mr. Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Hon’ble Minister of Labour and Employment (08.11.2019)

The Commission organized a one-day National Seminar on ‘Elimination of Bonded Labour System’ on 08/11/2019 at India International Centre under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice P.C. Pant, Former Judge of Supreme Court and Hon’ble Member, NHRC.

Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Hon’ble Minister of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India, Chief Guest of the Seminar, said that when our country can abolish social evils like Sati System, why not we eradicate Bonded Labour from society. He enumerated that the issue of bonded labour is prevalent issue which exit in day to day basis. He highlighted that the cases of bonded labour proliferating on a daily basis and its is in need of serious attention. He also highlighted about Pencil Portal which is a 24x7 portal for receiving complaints with regards to Bonded Labour. Further, he stated that benefits that come with the revised central sponsored scheme. He also highlighted the importance of District Magistrate and their role in the endeavour against the Bonded Labour System

Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC inaugurated it. The Inaugural session began with the welcome speech of Shri Jaideep Govind, Secretary General, NHRC, In his speech, he enumerated that in the present times the dimensions of bonded labour has changed and now it is found to exist in both rural and urban pockets in unorganized industries such as brick kilns, stone quarries, coal mining, agricultural labour, domestic servitude, circus and sexual slavery. He also highlighted that the Commission is deeply concerned towards the eradication of the degrading and inhuman practice of bonded labour from the country. It has taken up this matter at the highest echelons of the Central and State Governments through a series of personal interventions by the NHRC.

Mr. Justice P.C. Pant, Hon’ble Member of NHRC enumerated on the role of NHRC in combating the issue of Bonded Labour system. He further stated that the real problem lies in the implementation aspects. Firstly, the need to create awareness regarding the legislative policies with respect to Bonded and Child labour or to publicize it is hardly realized. He also highlighted that adequate measures should also be taken to improve the implementation of the Bonded Labour Abolition Act. Further, bonded labour cases should be tackled in fast track courts and justice should be provided to the labourers.

The participants were among others Dr. D.M. Mulay, Member, NHRC, Sr. Officers and representatives of the concerned Ministries of the Central Government, National Commissions, SHRCs, NGOs, Secretaries/Principal Secretaries from the department of Labour, Rural Development Women and Child and SC/ST and concerned Senior Officer and District Magistrates from Bonded Labour prone districts of all the States/UTs.

The objective of the workshop was to raise awareness among the various stakeholders to eliminate the persisting menace of Bonded labour, Child Labour and Human Trafficking along with addressing the issues of Inter-State Migrant Workers. The concern was to sensitize DMs/SDMs to minimize this menace from our society.

The Seminar was divided into three Technical Sessions. The First Technical Session i.e. The Interactive Session on the Commitment, Review and Accountability for Eradication of the Bonded Labour System chaired by Mr. Justice P.C. Pant Hon’ble Member, NHRC highlighted the need to link skills with emerging demand of the economy and make them more employable, so that no one is forced into this practice due to lack of skills that they possess.

The second Technical Session i.e. Review of the State’s Action on Implementation of Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme: Challenges and Good Practices. Chair by Shri Surajit Dey, Registrar (law), NHRC saw the representation of the bonded labour prone states who highlighted their endeavours and hindrance in combating the prevalent issue of Bonded Labour in their States. The third Technical Session i.e. Panel Discussion on Release, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Bonded Labour: Way Forward highlighted the concerns raised by various stakeholders and NGOs regarding rehabilitation and release of funds for victims of bonded labour system. Some of the suggestions and recommendations that cropped from the discussion were insightful and were duly noted by the concerned ministries.

The National Seminar concluded with the reflective note from Mr. Justice P.C. Pant, Hon’ble Member, he assured that the suggestions provided by the Ministries and NGOs/CSOs will be taken into consideration. He also appealed to all the stakeholders present in the conference to work in a convergent and cooperative manner to fight these issues and help the Commission create a more inclusive society as was dreamt by the constitutional makers. He further assured that the Commission will help the participants in all the possible ways to reach that desired goal.