In an industrial area at the Himachal-Punjab border, clouds of smoke hang above a sorry scene of bare-footed workers clambering atop brick kilns, hacking away at mounds of clay and carrying heavy loads.
This paradise for brick businessmen is called Barotiwala and Baddi. To satiate the hunger of a businessman, scores of workers work their lives off in the kiln. Nearby, a women and her half-naked children squat at the edge of a coal mound. The children, barely four years old and with their faces smeared with flying ash, accompany their mother is smashing the coal by banging two pieces against each other unlike their mother, who uses a hammer relentlessly on the mound.
The kilns are an apostle of unsafe working conditions. With no safety equipment and horrific working conditions, the place reeked of illness. To add to the miseries, the wages of these hardworking labourers were withheld too.
With a normal working schedule lasting 18 hours in a day, even pregnant women and adolescent girls are not spared the horrors. Slavery is rampant in the kiln with a dearth of good drinking water and nutritious food.
The dire situation has been prevalent for decades now, if not centuries. It has been accepted that drastic measures are the need of the hour to improve the condition of these workers. In the regard, various states have enforced different kinds of Acts but a smile could be brought on these faces only when the authorities decided to effectively implement the enacted Acts else we stand of losing these humans as slaves to the annals of history.