Government today hiked financial assistance for persons freed from bonded labour to Rs 3 lakh, from Rs 20,000 currently, and proposed stringent deterrents to tackle the menace of forced prostitution and organised begging rings.
Labour Ministry will soon issue a notification to enforce amendments in the scheme for rehabilitation of bonded labour to address new forms of bondages such as forced prostitution, organised begging rings and child labour, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told reporters here.
“The earlier rule was only for namesake. This government is serious about the menace and is making it a fully centrally-assisted scheme. It is also raising the present budget of the scheme from the present Rs 5 crore to Rs 47 crore,” he said.
For swift transfer, money will be sent online to District National Child Labour Project Society, which will have full access to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) platform, he added.
Taking a jibe at the previous government, he said in 2004 a set of guidelines were issued on the Rehabilitation Scheme, which was introduced in 1978, but lacked sufficient deterrent as a result criminals escaped and public money was pocketed by unscrupulous elements.
“This government has resolved to undo past misdeeds and has adopted a 2 pronged approach. First, quantum of financial assistance given under the scheme is being raised from Rs 20,000 to Rs 3 lakh for disabled, female and children rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgenders,” Dattatreya said.
A special category comprising of female and minor will get Rs 2 lakh per person and a normal adult male bonded labour will get Rs 1 lakh, he added.
This rehabilitation amount will remain in an annuity account controlled by District Collector and a monthly earning will be given to the beneficiary in his or her account. The District Collector will take a decision on the corpus amount, the Minister said.
The new norms also provide for a Rs 4.5 lakh assistance for survey of bonded labourers in sensitive districts.
“Ministry is creating a permanent and renewable district level rehabilitation fund of Rs 10 lakh that will be under the discretion of district collector. It will be used as a stopgap arrangement before reimbursement by the Centre through the DBT system,” he said.
The Minister said the government will ensure that bonded labour cases are tried and judgment pronounced on the same day like other summary trial cases as per Criminal Prodecure Code (CrPC).
“It will also be ensured that such cases are monitored by 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,” he added.
Also suitable provisions will be made for institutional involvement of officials from NHRC, the State Human Rights Commission, NGOs and Union Labour Ministry, Dattatreya said.