Plan to hike financial aid to rehabilitated bonded labourers

New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The government is revising the scheme for the rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers to effect a five-fold increase in financial assistance to Rs.1 lakh, union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said on Tuesday.

The budget for the revised scheme is also proposed to be increased from Rs.5 crore to about Rs.47 crore per annum.

Under the revised scheme, the most deprived and marginalised victims like the disabled, women and children rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgenders will be given Rs.3 lakh each for rehabilitation, the minister said.

The special category of women and minors will get Rs.2 lakh. A normal adult male bonded labourer will get one lakh rupees, he added.

“One of the key features of the new scheme is that it will address new forms of bondage such as organised begging rackets, forced prostitution and child labour for which women, the disabled and transgenders are mercilessly used,” Dattatreya said.

Under the revised scheme, the money will remain in an annuity account — controlled by the district magistrate — and a monthly earning will flow to the beneficiary’s account. The corpus will remain intact until decided by the district magistrate, Dattatreya said.

The minister said the rehabilitation work has been made simple for the district magistrate/collector/deputy commissioner.

“A permanent and renewable district-level rehabilitation fund of at least Rs.10 lakh will be available with the district magistrate to be used as a stop-gap arrangement before reimbursement by the central government through the Direct Benefit Transfer system,” he said.

The district magistrate is empowered to provide several non-cash benefits such as land, house, ration and occupational support through various state programmes.

Bonded labour still exists in the country despite constitutional provisions for its eradication.



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