Union Government on 17 May 2016 announced that it is working to revise the rehabilitation of bonded labour scheme and make it a Central Sector Scheme.
The revised scheme was announced by Bandaru Dattatreya, the Minister of State (IC) labour and Employment.
Implementation of the new rules will replace Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Highlights of the revision
• Quantum of Assistance: It increases the quantum of financial assistance from 20 thousand rupees to one lakh rupees.
• Cash Assistance may extend to two lakh rupees in Special Cases and to three lakh rupees in cases of extreme deprivation.
• It proposes to increase the budget provision from 5 crore rupees to 47 crore rupees per annum.
• It proposes a fund of 3 lakh rupees for the most deprived and marginalised like the disabled, female and children who are rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgender
• The special category that comprises of females and the minors will get 2 lakh rupees
• A normal adult male bonded labour will get 1 lakh rupees
• New Form of Bondages: It aims to address new forms of bondage such as
a) Organised begging rings
b) Forced prostitution
c) Child labour for which females, disabled and transgenders are mercilessly used by the powerful elements.
• Role of District Magistrate: This new package and the money will remain in an annuity account, controlled by the District Magistrate (DM).\
• The monthly earning will flow to the accounts of the beneficiary.
• The corpus will remain untouched till it is decided by the DM.
• The rehabilitation work has been made simple for the DM/Collectors.
• A permanent and renewable district level rehabilitation fund of at least 10 lakh rupees will be available with the DM/Collector which will be used as a stop-gap arrangement before reimbursement by Central Government through the DBT system.
• The DM/Collector is also empowered to provide several non-cash benefits such as land, house, ration and occupational support through State Programmes.
• The DMs/Collectors will also have the freedom to extend state care where bondage is not proved but the person is in distress.
• Other Provisions: Minor children and women will remain in State care and educated & skilled as per their needs. Marriage of orphan girls will also be the responsibility of State Government.
• It seeks to ensure that bonded labour cases are tried and judgment is pronounced on the same day like other summary trial cases as per Cr.PC.
• It will also be ensured that such cases are monitored by the Sessions Courts and the State High Courts by way of regular review as per their respective criminal manual apart from the State Home and Revenue Departments.
• Suitable provisions will be made in the Rules to facilitate institutional involvement of other stakeholders.
The Bonded Labour System is a social evil which though has declined over a period, however still exists in India despite constitutional provisions for its total eradication. The BLS(angel) Act, 1976 for the last 40 years has not been able to eradicate Bonded Labour System completely.
Even the Rehabilitation Scheme of 1978 have been able to free 2.82 lakh Bonded Labourers in 18 States across 172 districts in the country during the past 38 years. There is no correct estimation of the extent of bondage which has also transformed its form under the compulsions of transitional economy.
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