KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 16
The Agriculture Bonded Labour National Conference concluded today by issuing a Kathmandu declaration with the demand for liberation of Harawa-Charawa (bonded labourers in the agriculture sector).
The Conference has sought annulment of ‘unjust debt’ remaining in the name of Harawa-Charawa.
The two-day national gathering organised by the Agriculture Bonded Labour Rights Forum and National Dalit Network Nepal also demanded clear and credible data of Harawa-Charawa, recognition of their status and Harawa-Charawa identity card for them.
Each family of Harawa-Charawa should be provided at least 10 kattha land (one kattha is equivalent to 3,645 square feet) and education, health and employment opportunities be ensured while rehabilitating them.
The conference drew the government’s attention towards the need to endorse the draft related to Haliya Labour Prohibition Act, citing that rehabilitation of Haliya (bonded tillers) was not the priority of the three-tier government.
It has pressed for ensuring an identity card to those bonded tillers deprived of it despite the verification of their status.
Harawa are those bonded labours who are forced to work as land tillers and Charawa are those who work as herders to pay off debts taken by their ancestors, or themselves, or in condition of getting grains from their landlords.
Most Harawa-Charawa are landless and they are either non-paid or largely underpaid.
The 2013 ILO study suggests that the population of Harawa-Charawa in Nepal exceeds 100,000.
A study carried out by the ‘The Freedom Fund and CSRC has the fact that Harawa-Charawa are still bonded due to irregular debt.
The conference has demanded that the government include rehabilitation package by providing identity cards along with arrangement of re-collection of details again of freed kamaiyas and those missing to be transformed as modern farmers and labourers by freeing them from poverty and bonded labour for the real liberation of freed kamaiyas.
It has also asked to address the problems of Harawa-Charawa – citizenship, birth registration, social security allowance, to take initiatives for their identity, distribution of identity card, to establish their ownership on land, access of Harawa-Charawa to skill-oriented training for livelihood, and to end labour exploitation by maintaining ‘equal pay for equal work’ as per the policy of the government of Nepal.
The declaration also demanded that identity cards be provided to the kamlahari, who missed out including their names in the list of freed kamlahari, by collecting accurate data and to collect details of children working as kamlahari.
A version of this article appears in the print on December 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.