About 33.4% labourers are bonded, says study

The state government and members of the International Justice Mission (IJM) have disagreed with each other over the prevalence of bonded labour in the state.

According to figures with the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR), the number of labourers who have been certified to be eligible to avail rehabilitation and compensation from the government between 2015-18 is just 1,780.

However, according to a survey conducted by the IJM which was released in the city on Thursday, out of a small sample of 4,306 labourers, 1,439 were ‘potential’ bonded labourers.

With the government having no data on the total number of labourers in the state, researchers used certain tools to avail data on the total number. The study estimates that there are over 16.7 lakh labourers in the state.

The study was conducted in three districts - Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru Urban and Ramanagara.

The extrapolated data from the survey conducted in these districts indicates that there are over 5.58 lakh ‘potential’ bonded labourers in the state.

The study captured data on 15 distinct industries across 3,765 work sites, where manual labour exists.

The study also included interviews with 39 labourers currently living outside the targeted study districts, who had migrated into Karnataka in the last three years for employment opportunities.

The study found that the highest numbers were from Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and other parts of Karnataka.

“These are only imaginative figures and cannot be considered. Even as the figures
are under-reported and the last available data is from 2014-15, these figures cannot be considered,” said Krishnappa, nodal officer, bonded labour, RDPR.

Prathima M, associate director, IJM, said that with no government figures, the survey could be a start for the government to ponder upon. She clarified that this survey was just indicative of ‘potential’ bonded labourers.

The study calls for better implementation of measures by the state, better state policies, steps to improve livelihood options and cross-departmental response.

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About 33.4% labourers are bonded, says study

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