Chandigarh, Apr 5 (PTI) Stressing on the need to eliminate bonded labour system, NHRC member Justice D Murugesan today said it was the administration’s duty to ensure that the freed labourers are rehabilitated.

Addressing a regional workshop on ‘Elimination of Bonded Labour System’ here, Murugesan said the element of bondage was prevalent in the society even after the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 was framed and the NHRC tasked by the Supreme Court in 1997 to oversee the implementation of the Act in different parts of the country.

“It is a duty of the whole administration to work unitedly for eradication of bonded labour and the financial help provided by the government must be made available immediately to the freed bonded labourers and states also must take necessary steps for their rehabilitation,” he said.

The elements of bonded labour are generally found in the unorganised labour sector, specifically at farm houses, dhabas, hotels, etc., situated in remote interiors, he said.

The National Human Rights Commission organised the workshop in collaboration with the government of Punjab and other participating states from the region were Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, UT of Chandigarh and Jammu & Kashmir, a PIB release said.

The objective of the workshop was to spread awareness on the matter among district magistrates, sub-divisional magistrates, state labour officers and members of vigilance committees.

The workshop also sought to sensitise people working in brick kilns, stone crushing and other related industries on the process of identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers, under the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and other legislations, it said.

NHRC Joint Secretary Ranjit Singh said bonded labour was a blot on the face of humanity. A short film on bonded labour was also shown on this occasion.

Principal Secretary (Punjab Department of Labour) Sanjay Kumar said vigilance committees had been setup in Punjab under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners at the district level and sub divisional magistrates at the sub division level, the release said.

These vigilance committees help the administration in implementation of the Act and also facilitate loans from the banks for the rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers, it added.

Since 2012, a total of 112 bonded labourers have been freed in the state and the state government contributed Rs 22.40 lakh for their rehabilitation, the statement said.

Bonded labour is a form of forced labour in which people, including children, work without payment mostly to pay off debts. Brick kilns and agriculture are among the sectors where bonded labour still exists.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.