Brick kiln workers in pitiable plight

Peddapalli: The situation of workers in brick kilns has drawn attention to their harrowing conditions, reminiscent of modern-day slavery. Hailing mainly from Odisha, these workers endure a life of torment and deprivation while toiling in the kilns, devoid of basic human rights and labor protections. Upon entering these kilns, workers find themselves trapped by stringent measures imposed by the owners, leaving them with no means to escape their ordeal. The absence of labour laws specifically safeguarding brick kiln workers exacerbates their vulnerability, exposing them to relentless hardships and abuse.

Contrary to migrant labour laws mandating essential provisions like shelter, food, and education for workers and their children, the reality is starkly different. Recent incidents, such as workers being beaten in a brick kiln in Ramagiri mandal of Peddapalli district and a tragic episode where 20 individuals fell ill, resulting in two deaths due to contaminated food in another kiln in Peddapalli mandal, underline the dire circumstances faced by these workers. Shockingly, the response from concerned authorities remains inadequate, reflecting a systemic failure to address these issues.

Public outcry and demands for action have intensified, urging officials to intervene and hold accountable the brick kiln owners flouting regulations. In Peddapalli district alone, approximately 130 brick kilns operate, with many disregarding established norms. The influx of brick kilns, fueled by the availability of quality clay and essential resources like NTPC ash, has surged in recent years, contributing to the proliferation of this exploitative industry.

The unchecked expansion of brick kilns, often intertwined with political affiliations, has perpetuated a culture of impunity, shielding owners from accountability. Allegations of employing minors, neglecting basic facilities, and subjecting workers, including women, to abuse further underscore the grim reality within these establishments. In a statement to The Hans India, Marwadi Sudarshan, State Dalit Liberation Front General Secretary, lamented the escalating lawlessness and violence within Peddapalli’s brick kilns. He emphasised the urgent need for regulatory enforcement and oversight to curb rampant irregularities and ensure the welfare of workers.

“The labourers coming from other states are coming with poor clothes and no money in hand. Even if they work hard, they can’t eat their favourite food. There is no quality food and clean water to drink. Due to this, the workers and their children are getting sick all the time. Many times there are incidents of tractors falling under lorries and crushing them as small children roam around the work sites with their parents. However, no action has been taken against the owners of the kilns,” he said.

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