36 views 4 mins 0 comments

TN to Crackdown on Bonded Child Labour

In Nation
December 14, 2021

The Tamil Nadu government will crackdown on bonded child labour which according to reports from organisations functioning in the field, is rampant in the delta districts of the state.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s office said that M.K. Stalin has directly intervened in the matter and that the state Social Welfare Department has been assigned to conduct a detailed study on the issue.

The state government faced backlash after four children, who were bonded labourers at a goat farm in Ramanathapuram, were rescued.

The children, Vetrivel (nine), Velayuthan (eight), Sakthivel (seven) and Sundar (six) were bought by the farm’s owner Govindarajan from their poverty-ridden parents for Rs 62,000.

When the children were rescued by a multitask department force in Thanjavur, they were not able to properly communicate as they were living with a herd of 500 goats and without proper food.

According to activist Pathimraj, Govindarajan had convinced the parents and bought the elder children for Rs 50,000 and the younger ones at Rs 12,000. The farm owner later sold the younger siblings to some other person.

Pathimraj told mediapersons that this was only the tip of the iceberg and buying and selling of children have been taking place in several delta districts of the state.

The activist said that his NGO, ‘Shed India’ had rescued more than 40 children from people who had bought them for bonded labour.

The parents of the four children, Sundararaj and Bapathi, told mediapersons that they were farm labourers and after the Covid-19 pandemic, were in abject poverty. They had given the children to Govindarajan as labourers and the money they took was the advance of the children’s salary.

Despite strict laws in the country against child labour, all the children were under 10 years and subjected to inhumane life for the past two years.

Speaking to mediapersons in Thanjavur, Vetrivel said: “We were given only kanji (porridge) and that too one time a day and we dreamt of eating rice and curry. He used to thrash us when goats were found missing and had to run around to retrieve the goats that had wandered off. We used to walk for 10 km daily from one point to another for grazing the goats.”

It was Vetrivel and Velayuthan who had escaped from the clutches of the farm owner and revealed the matter to the public and Pathimraj.

Pathimraj’s NGO immediately took up the matter and apprised the Thanjavur District Child Welfare Committee of it.

The children are now under the care of Child Welfare Committee and are trying to get back their communicating skills.

Pathimraj said that the Thanjavur district authorities have promised stringent action against Govindarajan.

The Chief Minister, according to information from the CMO, has directed the Thanjavur, Ramanathapuram and other delta district administrations to carry out immediate raids in such animal rearing farms, charcoal units, brick units and other areas where the possibilities of bonded labour exist.