New Delhi: Agrarian crisis is the root cause of the bonded and migrant labourer problem in the country. The agrarian crisis needs to be addressed by the prime minister and the state chief minister through a national mission like Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.

The has been opined by speakers at the National Human Rrights Commission (NHRC), held here on Saturday.

NHRC member, justice P.C. Pant, in his opening remarks, said that a preventive approach is needed to end bonded labour, as it has acquired various new forms and dimensions with the changing times and vocations since the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act was enacted in 1976.

Justice Pant said that bonded labour contracts are not purely economic in India; these are reinforced by custom or coercion in many sectors such as the agricultural, silk, mining, match production and brick kiln industries, among others. He said that robust inter- state coordination mechanisms involving all ministries, agencies, trade unions and NGOs are required to address the issues of migrant workers, who may end up becoming bonded labour.

NHRC member D. M. Mulay said that for the robust implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, it will be necessary to increase the conviction rate.

Member Jyotika Kalra said that the NHRC has been very proactively taking the cognizance of the complaints related to bonded labour. She suggested that the NGOs should try sending online complaints to the Commission by geo-tagging the photos showing bonded labour. Online complaints are easy for quick processing, monitoring and effective action to catch the culprits.

NHRC secretary genral Jaideep Govind said that the social and economic marginalization of weaker sections and their inability to move out of their respective group makes them particularly vulnerable to forced labour and human trafficking.

Ajay Tiwari, joint secretary, ministry of labour and employment, said that despite the efforts, there are still many challenges in the way of effective implementation of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. He said that very low conviction rate, high pendency of summary trials at district magistrate level, struck down of Section 21 of the Act by MP, TN and Maharastra high courts are some of the issues need to be addressed. He said that the Centre is focused on resolving them with the states.