CHI - Sindh Government will establish Hari Courts across the province to provide immediate justice to agriculture workers, said Ayaz Soomro, provincial minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs.
He was speaking at focused group discussion with parliamentarians on the issue of Reforms in Sindh Tenancy Act, organised by National Coalition Against Bonded Labour (NCABL) at a local hotel in Karachi last evening.
The proposal for socio- economic protection to agriculture workers through bringing reforms in Sindh Tenancy Act and legislative changes in relevant protection laws, were the main issues discussed during in meeting attended by members of NCABL, SPARC, PILER, Actionaid and farmers' organisation.
Speaking at the occasion Ayaz Soomro revealed that provincial government has made a comprehensive plan to address the core issues of agriculture workers such as immediate justice, socio- economic protection of farmers.
He disclosed that addressing the increasing number of bonded labourer and vulnerability of the families of farmers, government has decided to establish the Hari (Peasants) courts to provide easy access and immediate justice to the agriculture workers.
He told the participants that soon after approval of the cabinet, the Hari courts would be established in different districts of the province.
For the socio- economic protection of agriculture workers, the minister revealed that special fund for the financial support to needy families of agriculture workers has been established.
According to him, the special fund for financial support to poor families would be allocated from the Baitul mall scheme.
He added that in the next session of the assembly a motion would be moved to constitute special committee on agriculture and food with mandate to identify the gaps and needs of reforms in existing Tenancy Act.
He added that the report submitted by previous special committee on reforms in Tenancy Act would be reviewed.
He told that provincial government has sent letter to Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan to extend its approval for the establishment of Drug Courts at Sukkur and Larkana. He explained that at present there is only one Drug Court in the provincial capital.
Ayaz Soomro, announced that on behalf of his ministry, an amount of Rs.10,000 will be given to lawyers for their free legal aid support in the release of juvenile, bonded labourers.
Haji Anwer Ali Mahar, the member of provincial assembly and the chairman of previous special committee on Reforms in Tenancy Act, speaking at the occasion introduced participants about the work of previous special committee's report, which was made to bring reforms in Sindh Tenancy Act.
He proposed that special fund should be allocated for those farmers who are in debt.
He disclosed that bondage in agriculture is a consequence of advance (Peshgi), He pointed out that a tenant can not payback the amount he receives in terms of Peshgi because of low income of production. So he was of the view that to eliminate the bondage, government should provide special funds to those tenants who are under debt.
Talking about the issue, Iqbal Detho, the Technical Advisor to National Coalition Against Bonded Labour, suggested that existing District Vigilance Committees should be activated through empowering them with mandate to address the issue of tenant and growers.
He proposed that special funds should be allocated for the rehabilitation of families of bonded labourer living in Shelter camps.
Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) talking about the mechanisms of Socio- economic protection of agriculture workers said that time has changed, agriculture workers should be treated like industrial workers and special funds should be allocated for the social welfare and economic safeguards. Sadia Baloch, the Regional Manager of SPARC, Sindh also spoke.