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Workforce register to curb migration

For the first time since being carved out of Bihar 15 years ago, Jharkhand is embarking on an ambitious voluntary registration scheme to track lakhs of men, women and children who leave the state every year in search of jobs.

By RUDRA BISWAS in Ranchi
  • Published 19.05.15
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INSURANCE BAIT

Ranchi, May 18: For the first time since being carved out of Bihar 15 years ago, Jharkhand is embarking on an ambitious voluntary registration scheme to track lakhs of men, women and children who leave the state every year in search of jobs.

To make the scheme attractive and to ensure the migrating workers enrolled themselves voluntarily, the state labour department has proposed an insurance cover of Rs1.50 lakhs for each registered worker, the sum assured to be paid to his/her the next of kin in the event of death or disability.

"We have begun consultations with urban, panchayat, social welfare, health and other departments so that a voluntary registration scheme is put in place within a month's time," Rahul Sharma, the state labour secretary, told The Telegraph.

Labour would be the lead department for implementing the voluntary registration scheme, though the actual execution would be handled at gram panchayats under the state panchayat department, Sharma indicated.

Elaborating on the insurance incentive, Sharma said that in addition to providing the facility to registered workers, it would also be extended to unregistered migrating workers, though with a lower coverage.

"We are also proposing to pass on the insurance scheme to unregistered migrating labourers, though with a reduced cover of Rs 75,000. Since migrating labourers opting for registration would be eligible for an increased insurance cover, this would act as an added incentive for more workers to enrol themselves," the labour secretary said.

The procedure would be via a simple registration form that would take a few minutes to fill. Apart from basic details, a worker would have to disclose the nature and place of his employment.

Sharma said since a number of placement agencies based in Delhi took the help of local agents to source workers who include men, women and children, the state would make it mandatory for these agencies to register themselves with the labour department.

"Compulsory registration of all placement agencies would also go a long way in protecting the rights of migrating labourers. This would help us track the workforce, too," the labour secretary said, adding that the idea was to develop an authentic data bank of migrating workers, identify districts more prone to such migration and implement employment generating schemes to combat the trend.

"The migration pattern is fast changing in Jharkhand," remarked Vasavi, former member of State Commission for Women, Jharkhand.

A large chunk of people, estimated to be between 3 lakh and 5 lakh, flock to the brick kilns and construction sites of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and some of the southern states for six months beginning in October each year only to return to their villages in June before the first monsoon rains to tend to their fields.

"There are villages in Gumla, Lohardaga, Khunti, Simdega, Pakur and Sahebganj districts where, barring the old, infirm and children, everyone from the father-in-law to the daughter-in-law and from sons to daughters leave their homes for work elsewhere," she said.

Over the past several years, driven by the spurt in demand for young and minor girls in the metros, particularly Delhi, NCR,Haryana, Mumbai and Hyderabad, hundreds of girls from Gumla, Simdega, Lohardaga, Khunti, Ranchi, Pakur and Sahebganj districts were suspected to have been lured by agents to work as domestic helps in affluent homes.

"At least 25,000 to 30,000 girls from these seven districts are known to be working as domestic helps in Delhi,NCR, Haryana, Mumbai and other metros. These districts are infested by agents of over 300 placement agencies in Delhi who lure minor girls by promising them a better future. But, some of these girls are pushed into the flesh trade or sold as bonded labourers," Vasavi revealed.

Sanjay Kumar Mishra, member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, stressed that over three lakh women, mostly young girls, have been lured by agents and taken away to the cities to work as domestic workers.

"This menace is rising. These is an enormous demand in Delhi and other metros for young girls from Jharkhand. And to meet this demand, hundreds of agents are known to operate in remote villages luring young girls on promises of a better future," Mishra said, adding that strong willpower on the part of the state was needed to put an end to this.