Article 23 of the Constitution of India prohibits “begar” and other similar forms of forced labour and further provide that any contravention of the said prohibition shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
The Central Government is fully committed towards eradication of the bonded labour system. Accordingly, Bonded Labour System has been abolished by law throughout the country with effect from 25th October, 1975 under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Ordinance with was replaced by the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Under the Act, identification, release and rehabilitation of freed bonded labour is the direct responsibility of the concerned State Government/Union Territory. Action against the guilty is taken by them under the Act.
In Order to assist the State Governments in the task of rehabilitation of identified and released bonded labourers, a Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour has been in operation since May, 1978. The Government has revamped the Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers with effect from May 17, 2016. Under the revamped Scheme, financial assistance is provided for rehabilitation of a rescued bonded labourer at the rate of rupees one lakh for adult male beneficiary, Rs. 2 lakh for special category beneficiaries such as children including orphans or those rescued from organized & forced begging rings or other forms of forced child labour, and women and Rs. 3 lakh in cases of bonded or forced labour involving extreme cases of deprivation or marginalization such as trans-genders, or women or children rescued from ostensible sexual exploitation such as brothels, massage parlours, placement agencies etc., or trafficking, or in cases of differently abled persons, or in situations where the District Magistrate deems fit.
The Scheme also provides for financial assistance of Rs. 4.50 lakh per district to the States for conducting survey of bonded labourers, Rs. 1.00 Lakh for evaluatory studies and Rs. 10 Lakhs per State per annum for awareness generation.
According to the reports received from the State Governments, the total number of bonded labourers released and rehabilitated till date is 2,91,449.
This information was given by Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar Union Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.