[Hpn] They build mansions but remain homeless;Tribune;India;7/10/01
Wed, 11 Jul 2001 19:50:56 +0000
Can you tell us what country this is in? You don't identify where this is
happening. Thanks, Morgan.
>Tuesday, July 10, 2001
>The Tribune <http://www.tribuneindia.com>
>They build mansions but remain homeless
>[by] Gayatri Rai
>Bathinda, July 10
>They build big bunglows and mansions but remain homeless throughout their
>lives. Deprived of all basic amenities, brickkiln workers do not dare to
>dream of a home.
>Even after putting 12 to 18 hours of labour in adverse climatic conditions,
>these workers barely earn enough to keep themselves hand to mouth. For two
>square meals a day, they are forced to push their children into labour when
>they should be sent to school.
>As most labourers are from Bihar, eastern U.P. or Madhya Pradesh and live
>kuchha houses near brickkilns sans civic and health facilities, most are
>unable to exercise their right to vote.
>A random survey of the brickkilns of the district revealed that child
>labour, although banned in the country, is widely prevalent in the kilns.
>But children are not paid anything as most are employed by the labourers
>themselves, just to add to the number of bricks produced in a day.
>All these workers are hired on contractual basis at Rs 175 for 1000 bricks.
>Most labourers said it was not possible to produce more than one lakh
>a year by a single person.
>The day of a labourer starts at 2 a.m. as he has to prepare kuchhi bricks
>7 a.m. When the furnace is ready for baking, the labourers have to handle
>almost the entire process involved in making of bricks — preparing the mud,
>making unbaked bricks, baking these at very high temperatures taking these
>out and then counting and arranging these in on order — all for a paltry
>Most employed at the brickkilns have become drug addict to enhance
>“productivity.” Addiction to tobacco, liquor, opium and poppy husk is
>The contractors are indifferent to the inhuman working conditions. Rough
>estimates revealed that about 85 per cent of their children do not complete
>even primary education.
>The houses in which these labourers reside are small and dingy without any
>ventilation electricity and water. Due to the unhealthy conditions, they
>fall ill frequently.
>About a fortnight ago, six labourers working in a kiln died of
>gastroenteritis in this district due to consumption of contaminated water.
>Not only this their womenfolk are often exploited by not only contractors
>but by neighbouring villagers too.
>Mr Channan Ram, state president of the Brickkiln Labourers Union, said till
>the brickkilns were not brought under the Factories Act and minimum wages
>not ensured for labourers, their lot could not be improved.
>To improve the working and living conditions of the labourers, primary
>health centres and schools should be set up near brickkilns. A payroll
>register must be made mandatory at the kilns, he added.
>Senior officials of the district administration said the brickkiln workers
>were often denied the right to vote as they did not have permanent
>in the state.
>The labourers are denied voting rights in their home-states as they are
>often absent during census operations.
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