Sugarcane Workers’ On Record, Finally

Sugarcane Workers’ On Record, Finally

Oxfam India is running a campaign in Osmanabad and Beed districts in Maharashtra to register sugarcane cutter migrant workers before they leave for other districts and neighbouring states for sugarcane cutting. This has been a first of its kind order from the Maharashtra government to register all its migrant workers. This will ensure that once registered the workers will have access to all social security benefits and government schemes.

Over six lakh workers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra fan out to western parts of the State, and neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for six months between October to March to cut sugarcane. However, this massive movement of workers was not on government record and hence they were deprived of development schemes and social security.

This initiative has been welcomed by Oxfam India as a step in the right direction. Official recognition will enable the large numbers of migrant workers to receive their rights and allow them to raise their voices in times of any injustice and discrimination.

Once the state government issued the order, our team in Osmanabad advocated with the Zila Samaj Kalyan to issue an order to all Block Development Officers to implement the order. In both Beed and Osmanabad, Oxfam India is undertaking campaigns to generate awareness on registration of sugarcane cutters.

For instance, a mobile van campaign was flagged off in Beed to spread awareness regarding registration among the sugarcane cutters. The Chitraratha or the mobile van was flagged off on October 25 by the Additional Collector of Beed, Tushar Thombre. The van was used by the teams to spread awareness on registration of sugarcane workers in 20 villages in 2 blocks in Beed.

On the order, the Social Justice and Special Assistant Department of the state said it was critical for district administration to register sugarcane workers in order to enable workers access social security and improve their standard of living. The department has instructed all block development officers (BDOs) to facilitate the process in their villages and provide the registered workers identity cards. This is the first time that informal, migrant workers would be receiving an official identity card as cane cutters via a digital registration process.

Prior to Oxfam India’s awareness campaign, it was noted that only 26,000 workers had been registered. The awareness campaign aims to actively register as many migrant workers in the districts, thus advancing the work of Gopinath Munde Ustod Kaamgar Kalyan Mahamandal that was set up by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray.

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