Reported by Ranjan Rath
Koraput, Nov 13:
Making a mockery of the Odisha government’s resolve, made barely a fortnight ago, to ‘eradicate’ child labour in the state, Debi Singh Gouda, a class V student, aged about 12 years, lost his left hand while working in a maize processing mill in Nabarangpur district to supplement the meagre income of his poor family.
Debi Singh, a class V student of Pujariguda upgraded upper primary school in Ekamba panchayat under Kasagumuda block in Nabarangpur district, along with eleven of his friends, had gone to work at a maize processing mill in his village owned by one Lalan Mehta after bunking school on Wednesday to earn a daily wage of Rs 50.
While deseeding corn, Debi Singh’s left hand got the sucked inside the machine leaving him critically injured.
Debi Singh was first rushed to the district headquarters hospital at Nabarangpur and was later shifted to the district headquarters hospital at Koraput.
“His condition was very critical on arrival here, but it is just a little better now. He is out of danger. His hand had to be amputated as it was badly damaged,” Dr B K Mohapatra, ADMO Koraput, said.
“I had gone to the mill to work and earn Rs 50. But unfortunately, my hand suddenly got sucked into the machine,” Debi Singh told reporters at the hospital.
Meanwhile, Labour minister Prafulla Mallick told reporters in Bhubaneswar that an inquiry had been ordered into the tragic incident.
“I have asked the Labour Commissioner to conduct a probe into the incident. The Labour Commissioner has directed the district collector to conduct a probe and submit a report. We will do whatever is needed for the child,” said Mallick.
Nabarangpur collector Md Sadique Alam said; “A three-member team, headed by sub-collector Parikshit Sethi, has been asked to file a report on the incident. District labour officer (DLO) and an officer from childline are the other members of the committee.”
The three-member team today visited Pujariguda and discussed the issue with the family members of Debi Singh and visited the spot of the accident. The team also recorded the statement of Sarbeswar Jena, the headmaster of the school. The district administration has lodged an FIR against the mill owner Lalan Mehta at the Kasagumuda police station.
The district administration has paid an ex-gratia of Rs 10,000 from the district Red Cross fund apart from Rs 5,000 from the chief minister’s relief fund (CMRF) to the family members of the boy.
Former Nabarangpur MP Pradip Majhi, while expressing sorrow over the unfortunate incident, demanded that the government should bear all the expenses of treatment of the injured child and immediately release Rs five lakh as assistance to the child’s family. Majhi also demanded inclusion Debi Singh’s family under the various welfare schemes of the government and provision of a house to his family under the government scheme.
Debi Singh had lost his father while he was an infant. His family consists of an elder brother and a mother. A hut is all that the family can claim as its property. Being extremely poor, his brother and mother work as coolies to run their family while Debi Singh often worked at the maize processing mill to supplemens his family’s income, besides meeting expenses related to his studies.
This is the second case in the state of a minor boy losing one of his hands while working in the last four months, the first being B Yakub in July this year.
Yakub, a poor class IX student of IMST English Medium School in Malkangiri had met with an accident and had lost one of his hands after he came in contact with a live electric wire while measuring a part of the road. The impact of the electric shock was so high that a large part of Yakub’s body was burnt in the accident.
Yakub worked in a road construction project under PMGSY as he did not have enough money to buy a pair of school uniforms.
Doctors at the King George Government Hospital in Visakhapatnam had to amputate one of his hands to prevent the infection from spreading.
(With additional inputs from OST Bureau)