21 July 2019
Vigilance Committee leads rescue
The Maduranthagam Vigilance Committee members inspected a worksite today and discovered a definite case of Bonded Labour in a woodcutting unit. A total of 7 labourers- 5 men and 2 women have been rescued after 7 years in bondage.
The Vigilance Committee (VC) monitors various work industries in which Bonded Labour is known to be prevalent. On receiving information on cases of Bonded Labour, the VC relays it to the District Magistrate / Sub-Divisional Magistrate in the respective jurisdiction. Vigilance Committee member Mr. Prakash Rao and some members who are former Bonded Labourers themselves, conducted a surprise inspection. The worksite was surveyed thoroughly and further investigation confirmed that the case exhibited elements of Bonded Labour.
On receiving the information, totally 7 survivors including 2 couples and one 17-year-old boy were rescued from the worksite. Each family had received an advance of Rs.2000/- from the woodcutting unit owner Sumithra who paid the labourers less than minimum wages of Rs.20/- per head, per day. The weekly wages was Rs.600/- for all 7 labourers together. 5 labourers hail from Uthiramerur while 2 labourers are from Maduranthagam.
The survivors await their Release Certificates at the Revenue Divisional Office. VC member Amulu who is a former bonded labourer, assisted the DA in the preliminary inquiry and helped the victims pack their belongings to leave the worksite.
According to the guidelines issued by the Tamil Nadu government in 2015, the Vigilance Committee should ensure that worksites of industries prone to having bonded labour are visited and checked at least once in every 3 years.