BHAWANIPATNA/SAMBALPUR : AT LEAST 13 migrant labourers from Western Odisha have died in the last two months. A Kalahandi-based labourer, Nilambar Dhangdamajhi whose palms were chopped off by a labour sardar (agent) in 2013 after he refused to accompany him to Chhattisgarh, died last month.
Unofficial reports claim that more than 150 migrant labourers from Kalahandi have died in the last one decade. Yet, the Labour Department does not have a database of the labourers who migrate to other States in search of work and often end up suffering at the hands of their employers or labour sardars.
With the Ministry of Rural Development failing to release funds under MGNREGS for the last three months bringing employment generation to a grinding halt, there is little option left for landless and marginal farmers other than to migrate to sustain their families.
In Kalahandi, 11 deaths of migrant workers have been reported in last two months after the body of Shiba Bhagta Deep of Putigaon under Karlamunda block reached his village on October 12. Shiba died on October 10 after falling off a three-storey building where he was working.
As of now, death of two migrants each has been received from Lanjigarh, Thuamal Rampur, Madanpur Rampur and Narla blocks, besides one each from Koksara and Junagarh and Karlamunda blocks.
Sources said while many died in accidents at work sites, others died of diseases after having to toil for long hours and stay in inhuman conditions. While police in the alien land must be registering cases in their respective police stations, with no information in hand and poor financial condition, family members are unable to follow up the cases to a logical end. The District Labour Office swings into action only after some NGOs rescue the migrants or media rakes up such issues.
The body of Ram Jagat of Nilji village in Sinapali block of Nuapada district reached his home on October 10. It is learnt that he died at Chennai, where he was working, after suffering from fever and gastroenteritis on October 7. Later, the dead body was packed off to his village. Locals said many migrants die at work place and their bodies are disposed locally. They are considered missing by family members, who suffer silently in penury and deprivation.
Similarly in Sambalpur, the body of Gajendra Mahakul of Nuapali under Bamra block reached his village from Surat in Gujarat on October 11. His employer claimed that Ganjendra suffered from colic pain and fever.
In order to avoid payment of compensation for deaths of migrants labourers at work place, labour unrest and law and order situation, employers send dead bodies to families of the deceased with paltry financial assistance.