Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Odisha government on the death of two children in a fire at a brick kiln in the state last year, an activist said on Wednesday.

The NHRC issued notice to the state's Chief Secretary B.K. Patnaik and directed him to submit a report on the incident within four weeks.

The human rights organisation acted on a complaint of India Media Centre (IMC), Akhanda, who filed the complaint. Akhanda said two child workers were killed and two others were injured in a major fire mishap in Durga Brick Industries at K. Nuagaon of Ganjam district of Odisha on January 20 last year.

Their parents were also working as bonded labourers in the same brick kiln. No action has so far been taken by police and local administration against the brick kiln owner, who was running the unit illegally, Akhanda said.

In his petition of December 11, 2012, Akhanda alleged that despite the ban on bonded labour and child labour, thousands of people and children are employed in brick kilns across the state.

These bonded labourers get to work with their families, including children. The children are thus deprived of education and basic health facilities, the petitioner pointed out.

The children are employed in kilns from an early age, and each family is expected to make 1.5 lakh or more bricks during a specific period, to repay amounts of money they have borrowed from the labour contractor, who is often a middleman between the labourers and the brick kiln owners, the petitioner explained.

"We had requested release of all such people and children working in brick kilns, adequate compensation to families thus vicitimised, and legal action against the accused," said Nishikant Mishra, counsel for the petitioner.


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