329 bonded labourers rescued from Tamil Nadu brick kiln

Up in the air: Exhaust from a brick kiln in Faridabad
Photo: Dr Sarath Guttikunda

Around 329 workers including 88 children were rescued on May 30 from a brick kiln in Tamil Nadu where they were being forced to work for up to 20 hours a day at a measly salary. The kiln is located at Thiruvallur, 100 km away from the state capital Chennai.

The police came to know of the situation after one of the workers was beaten up by the employer and admitted in a government hospital. An NGO, International Justice Mission, met the injured worker and reported the incident to the police. District administration was swift to take action and raided the place with a joint action team.

The rescued workers were brought to Tamil Nadu from the neighbouring state of Odisha in November 2015. Each family exploited by the employers was promised an advance of Rs 10,000 to Rs 16,000 and a pay of Rs 350 per day by fake agents in Odisha. But they were paid between Rs 200 to Rs 240 per week.

Activists claim that around 300 workers were rescued from the same kiln last year as well. But the authorities failed to arrest the kiln-owners.