MP from Odisha, Bijayanat (Jay) Panda visits brick kilns in Ranga Reddy district 10th April. Member of Parliament from Odisha, Bijayanat (Jay) Panda visited brick kilns in Ranga Reddy district. It turned out to be a remarkable visit. When we reached th …

Samantha Ritchie
MP from Odisha, Bijayanat (Jay) Panda visits brick kilns in Ranga Reddy district

MP from Odisha, Bijayanat (Jay) Panda visits brick kilns in Ranga Reddy district

10th April. Member of Parliament from Odisha, Bijayanat (Jay) Panda visited brick kilns in Ranga Reddy district.

It turned out to be a remarkable visit. When we reached the spot in Thukuguda village from where the visit was to start, a crowd of owners was already waiting. By the time, MP’s entourage reached the first kiln, the convoy of vehicles comprised of some 50 cars and 100 motor cycles. The brick kiln was the same where violence had taken place on 16th March. The owners had warned the activists not to come back and be seen in any brick kiln. They were livid that the activists had made a comeback. They could not control their anger for long. Jostling and pushing started almost as soon as the visit began. They made Krishna, the chief target of their anger. Krishna had to be taken out and put in the police van. 

The MP was able to meet the workers in spite of all this bedlam all around. The crowd was asked to step back while he visited the huts and met the workers. After the first visit, there was a break when owners presented their side of picture to the MP in the local Ayappa temple. The visit resumed and two more kilns were visited. One of these was the kiln where another incident of violence had taken place. The other was a model brick kiln where the Labor Department has implemented schemes under the project it is implementing. These include Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna and membership of Construction Workers’ Welfare Board. There was an ugly moment at the end when the local police inspector tried to hold back Krishna saying that he has to investigate charges leveled against him. He also asked other activists for their personal details in an offensive manner. 

The visit was followed by an interactive meeting between the Labor Department, the Solidarity Committee, the media and the MP. The Labor Department presented its project after which the MP made a statement of his observations. He appreciated the efforts made by the Labor Department but said that these do not address some core issues. These he identified as: 

  • Non -payment of minimum wages
  • Violence targeting the activists (that he vividly watched in the field) and the workers (of which he was told by many observers)
  • Child labor that he was able to ascertain personally

He asked the Labor Department to ensure implementation of its own guidelines. He has already written to the Chief Minister of AP, National Human Rights Commission and other relevant bodies. He said that he will write again. He also said that he will make a follow up visit next year and also visit the source areas. He asked the activists to keep him abreast of the developments. 

The members of the Solidarity Committee representing a number of NGOs made comments and suggestions that were noted by the MP. These related to:

  • Implementation of the Inter State Migrant Workmen Act and the need to revise it
  • Implementation of Vishakha guidelines for protection of women workers

The visit was followed by a meeting of the Solidarity Committee to reflect on the visit and plan the strategy. It was decided to

  • Meet the Director General Police to apprise him of the threat to Krishna’s security and the hostile attitude of local police officials 
  • Organize a state level consultation to focus of issues of workers tentative date 28th April

Sudhir Katiyar
On behalf of Inta Bhatti Majdoor Union


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Samantha Ritchie