Saturday, August 22, 2009

21 bonded labourers rescued from kinnaur

A case of exploitation of migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh at an upcoming power project in Kinnaur has come to the fore. Labour officer, Kinnaur, Munish Sood has rescued 21 labourers, residents of Bara village in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, from the 1,000-MW JP power project coming up at Karchamangtu, in Kinnaur district.

Sources said the labourers were beaten and forced to work for more than 12 hours a day in tunnels of the project without any proper facility. They had injury marks and one of the labourers Kailash had to be hospitalised.

In their written statements before the administration, they alleged that they were brought from their village on a plea that they would be employed in Delhi. A middleman, Umesh, brought 26 labourers to the project about a month ago. At the JP power project, the labourers were working for contractor Ravinder Negi. They were made to work in extreme harsh conditions at the site and were beaten in case they protested against the maltreatment. However, matter came to the fore after five labourers managed to flee from the site. They reported the matter to the Shivpuri District Magistrate, who wrote to the Kinnaur DC for rescuing the labourers.

Kinnaur DC Priyanka further directed the labour officer yesterday to carry out the raid. The labour officer reached the site yesterday night and found labourers being forced to work in poor conditions. He rescued and brought them to the district headquarters around 2 am. Since the case is related to JP Company, most officials were found evading the issue.

The Kinnaur DC declined to comment on the matter. She said the statement in the matter would be made only by the district public relation officer. The labour officer said he was not authorised to comment.

Allegations have also been levelled against the police for adopting a soft attitude in the case. It had been alleged that the police had earlier given a clean chit to the project authorities on the issue of bonded labour. Kinnaur SP YS Pathania said they had issued a clean chit to the project authorities on the issue of child labour allegations. It was earlier alleged that child labourers were working as domestic helps at the project.

General Manager (HR), JP power project, Brig Uppal, when contacted on phone, feigned ignorance about the entire matter. He, however, assured to look into the matter and get back on phone within an hour. However, when contacted later, he said, “We have five working sites. I have contacted people at three sites and nothing had happened there. However, I could not contact the other sites due to communication problem and so cannot comment if any problem had taken place there.”


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