Cassian Baliarsingh

Even as the Odisha government makes tall claims of arresting middlemen and taking aggressive steps to curb the illegal trafficking of bonded labourers in the state, the gloomy job scene here has defeated the purpose.

The perennial problem of unemployment in the poverty-stricken districts has forced thousands of youths and even young women to put their lives at risk and travel to other states in search of work. Hundreds have died while working as bonded labourers, but the migrant workers are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The government allocates hundreds of crores every year under various schemes; however, the bonded labourers are left to be exploited, forced to work in hazardous work atmospheres in the neighboring states.

A glaring example is the plight of migrant workers of inaccessible and remote Udaipur village under Tentulikhunti Sadar police limits in tribal-dominated Nabarangpur district.

Deprived of all the basic facilities, the village is completely devoid of young men and women as they are compelled to go to other states in search of work. Now, the village is left only with elderly people and children who safeguard the houses and agricultural lands.

“As you all know, there is no employment opportunity or work in our area. The government and the district administration have also turned a blind eye to our plights. So, young men and women of our village have no other option, but to travel to places like Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in search of work,” said a villager Dharanidhar Singh.

Similarly, another woman of the village, Kusuma Pujari said, “My sons and husband have gone to work in brick kilns in Vijayawada. They are forced to work under extreme conditions for livelihood.”

“Half the people of this village have gone to work elsewhere. In a family of 5-6 members, only 1 or 2 are left here, the rest of everyone has left the village. They are forced to live with their pet dogs and cats to do away with their loneliness,” said another villager.

When contacted, Tentulikhunti BDO, Duryodhana Bhoi said that the matter has already been brought to his notice and he will take steps to provide work under various government schemes in the village.


(Reported by Nabaghan Bisoyi, OTV)