Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Lack of accountability and lost lives: PARDA Case Study

Asha* (18) left her village in Odisha to work at a brick kiln in Telengana in 2014. She secured this work through an agent, and she and her father Vishal* had been working at the same destination since December 2014. In between, Vishal returned to his village to obtaining a BPL card, while his daughter Asha continued to work in the absence of her father. Later, it was learnt that she fell off a tractor and lost her life on the 29th of March 2015.

When Vishal learnt about the death of his daughter, he went to the work site accompanied by the agent to fetch her remains. However, Vishal has been missing since then, and over forty days later his whereabouts are still unknown. There are speculations that the brick kiln owner refused to hand over Asha’s body, and that due to some irregularity the employer is hiding what he has done with her body and also has detained Vishal.

After the PARDA team’s intervention, International Justice Mission was contacted and their representative went to claim Asha’s body from the brick kiln owner. However the owner turned them away; after threatening the IJM representative and refusing to take any action in connection with the case. Now, government intervention is vital for this case to proceed.

As Asha had been registered under the BOCW scheme, PARDA is now working to locate her father Vishal in order to secure for him the benefits of the scheme. An order to this effect has already been issued by the Labor Commissioner of Odisha.

Asha and Vishal’s plight reflects the exploitation faced by many such migrant workers. Brick kiln workers recruited through agents are often engaged in hazardous work, and structures of power and accountability are rarely transparent. Though various legal provisions are in place, migrant workers are often helpless in the face of exploitative employers and lack the means and voice necessary for making these employers accountable. Without the intervention of NGOs, migrant workers are often unable to fight for justice, or claim benefits and compensations that they are entitled to. Orissa is also notorious for the continued prevalence of bonded labour.

People Awareness For Rural Development AgencyPARDA was founded in Nuapada District in 1999, with a Gandhian spirit and ideology. The Nuapada geographical area is complex, diverse and risk-prone, and is considered among the most backward regions of the country, popularly known as KBK region of Orissa. PARDA has been extending information and services to marginalized sections of society with a focus on schedule castes and scheduled tribes; working to enable them to assert their rights and identify the causes of their oppression. 

* Names have been changed to protect identities.

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M Chakraborty has completed a degree in English Literature from Delhi University and a Master's degree in Women's Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research interests include gender and migration, diasporas, Partition, internal displacement and Sindhi culture.
Radhika M. Chakraborty

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