‘Masked’ bonded labour casts a shadow on State
- A “hidden crime” and rampant in unorganised sectors, bonded labour and its prevalence may be grossly underestimated in the State, according to a recent study.
- The study has estimated that nearly a third of the informal labour force in and around Bengaluru is potentially in bonded conditions.
- Extrapolating their findings, they believe there could be lakhs of bonded labourers in the State, who are exploited by a practice banned under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
- This is in stark contrast to the State government’s assertion that there are less than 5,000 bonded labourers.
- The study, which was published in the Journal of Human Trafficking in June, was formally released during the inaugural of the two-day State conference on bonded labour.
- Researchers from the NGO International Justice Mission (IJM), School of Criminology and Justice Studies at University of Massachusetts (the U.S.), interviewed 4,306 labourers in 17 markets in Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagaram districts.
- The underlying assumption was that most bonded labourers were allowed by their “employers” (or, owners) to go to the taluk market once a week to pick up rations.
- Gathering data after 10-minute interviews, researchers identified that 1,439 or 33.4% of the labourers were “potentially” in bonded conditions that is, they were given less than minimum wage, movement was restricted, advances were paid for work, among others.
- The survey shows that brick kilns, construction, flower gardens, and rock quarries had a disproportionately high number of bonded labourers, while sugarcane and other agricultural practices had fewer percentage of bonded labourers.
- Nearly, 30.5% were suspected to have been trafficked, some from within the State, others from Odisha, Tamil Nadu, among others. More than half of bonded labourers were being kept within the factory premises itself, which, researchers believe, was because it gives owners a degree of control over labourers.
- In 2015, a government-appointed committee, led by journalist Sivaji Ganeshan, had placed the number of rehabilitated bonded labourers in the State at 7,646, but warned that the banned practice had adapted to new forms to modern agriculture and informal markets.
- Many activists believe the current surveys are just a tip of the iceberg and do not fully capture data.
‘Farmers exploiting groundwater ignoring long-term consequences’
- Despite water crisis, farmers in villages around the Arkavathy sub-basin have been growing water intensive crops, according to a study by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) published in the journalIrrigation and Drainage .
- The study, ‘Adapting or Chasing Water? Crop Choice and Farmers; Responses to Water Stress in peri-urban Bangalore’, was a part of an extensive socio-hydrological research and uses cross-sectional data from a random sample of 333 farmers from 15 villages in the basin.
Water consuming crops
- It found that farmers in these villages were unconcerned about falling groundwater levels. In fact, they had switched to high water consuming crops, such as eucalyptus plantations, in the northern part of the sub-basin, away from the city. In the areas closer to the city, farmers prefer growing vegetables which are in high demand, but again highly water consuming, the study found.
- Highlighting the trend where urbanisation has driven up demand for water-intensive vegetable and fruit crops, the study stated that the practice is likely to continue as long as there is availability of groundwater.
- The study also found that an increasing number of farmers were investing in borewell drilling in both the upstream part of the basin and villages closer to the city. However, borewell ownership was skewed in favour of wealthy farmers, the study said.
- According to the study, only 15% of the 333 farmers owned borewells. Farmers, especially the marginal ones, who could not afford borewells were forced to supplement agricultural income with non-farm income or quit agriculture altogether.
Ignoring drip irrigation
- The study also found that adoption of water conservation technologies, such as drip irrigation, was low among these farmers.
- Despite water scarcity and significant government subsidies, according to the study, only about 37% of the irrigated farmers have adopted drip irrigation.
- Those who have adopted drip appeared to be motivated by water scarcity as well as labour scarcity.
- Resource sustainability may not be a prime concern for the farmers in the short run, especially when opportunities exist outside of agriculture to earn additional or better incomes.
- However, the study warns about the long-term consequences of groundwater exploitation.
- When there is neither regulation of groundwater exploitation nor other mechanisms to provide feedback to farmers as to the cumulative hydrological effects of individual crop choices, the long-term impacts are inequity among the farming population and unsustainability, both of water resources and farm-based livelihoods
17% of cargo exported from KIA is pharmaceuticals
- Pharmaceutical products account for 17% of the total cargo exports handled at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).
- More than 70% of the pharmaceuticals are exported to USA, UK, Germany and other European countries
- The airport currently handles 10,000 metric tonnes of exports per month out of which 70% constitutes food and other perishable items.
- The airport also handles import business of 100 tonnes per month, which include chocolates, ice cream and other products.
- It has started receiving salmon from Norway due to growing demand from restaurants in the city.
- On an average, the airport receives shipments from 1,000-odd trucks, including from other cities like Hyderabad, Tirpur and Visakhapatnam.
- The BIAL will come with a truck parking facility with various amenities, like service stations and fuel stations
For property registration, PR card is mandatory
- Dakshina Kannada district administration will make PR card mandatory for property registration and transaction in the city beginning with two revenue villages under the jurisdiction of Mangaluru City Corporation from January 2019
- The PR card is the government’s certificate given to the owner of property.
- This is a proof of ownership of property and is created under the provisions of the Karnataka Land Revenue Acts and Rules.
- The Urban Property Ownership Records (UPOR) Project was initiated in the city covering 32 revenue villages six years ago.
- Survey of 1,50,428 property under the jurisdiction of the city corporation has been completed under the project now.
- Of them, documents of 76,608 property have been collected now. Hence, those who have not submitted the documents, including those in apartments, will have to submit them to the office of UPOR Project in the Mini Vidhana Soudha building, Hampankatta.
- The Deputy Commissioner said that of the 31,174 draft PR cards prepared, 25,618 draft cards have been distributed. Of the 23,221 final PR cards approved, 17,943 cards have been sold to the property owners.
- The PR card is an eight-page document on property holding and the UPOR Project in the district is now applicable to city only.
- The city has been divided into six zones and 30 sectors covering 32 villages under the project.
- The two revenue villages where PR card will be made mandatory for property registration and transaction are yet to be identified.
- The Deputy Commissioner said that once the draft PR card is issued, 30 days will be given for filing objections, if any.
- The final card will be sold only after addressing the issues mentioned in the objections.
- The property owner would have to pay the prescribed fee for getting the PR card.
- Once the PR card is ready, tampering with of property records would be difficult. The property owner would have a clear title.
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