Many freed bonded labourers yet to be rehabilitated in Nepal
KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Nepal had liberated Kamaiyas (bonded labourer) from their bonds on July 17, 2000, and assured to rehabilitate them, yet there are many freed Kamaiya families who have not received the government’s help.
Sixty-five-year-old Lawaru Tharu, a former bonded labourer (Kamaiya), says he has felt no change in his life even after 17 years of the Kamaiya liberation.
Tharu, who lives on a public land in Geruwa, Bardiya, has not received any benefits from the government rehabilitation programme so far. He has stopped visiting the office of the Freed Kamaiya Rehabilitation Committee because he could not get any support so that he could start a new life as a free man.
Tharu is not the only one who feels this way. There are 98 freed Kamaiya families in Bardiya who are still awaiting rehabilitation.
According to the committee, 56 liberated Kamaiya families are out of contact for a long time.
However, very little has been done to investigate about their whereabouts; whether they are still living in Bardiya or migrated to other parts of the country, no one seems to know.
The records kept by the committee put the number of freed Kamaiyas in the district at 11,875.
Krishna Prasad Gyawali, member secretary of the committee, claims the rehabilitation programme for former Kamaiyas was hit by the last year’s delay in budget release and the local level elections held in two stages in May and June this year.
Nepalese Rs 22 million ($211315) that was allocated last fiscal year, albeit late, for the rehabilitation of former Kamaiyas in the district was frozen before the amount could be put to use, he added.
Eighty-seven former Kamaiya families benefited from the rehabilitation programme run by the committee in the last fiscal year.
As part of the programme, the government provides Nepalese Rs 355,000 ($3409) to each household to buy land and build a home.
The government had liberated Kamaiyas from their bonds on July 17, 2000, and assured to rehabilitate them so that they could lead dignified lives. Yet there are many freed Kamaiya families who have not received the government’s help.
There are around 37,000 freed Kamaiyas living in various districts, including Bardiya, Banke, Dang, Kailali and Kanchanpur.