MANASH PRATIM DUTTA PALAKKAD, March 3 - A total of 54,235 people from Assam – including 3,111 females and 10 transgenders – are currently working in various industries in the southern state of Kerala, according to figures provided by the Kerala government.
Among the Assamese migrant workers, 51,114 are males.
According to the Kerala government, the total number of registered migrant workers in the State is 3,68,772 – of which 3,49,010 are males, 19,688 females and 147 transgenders.
Besides Assam, a large number of workers from the other states of the North East are also engaged in various sectors in Kerala. Official data states that 431 workers are from Arunachal Pradesh, 407 from Manipur, 364 from Meghalaya, 56 from Mizoram, 337 from Nagaland, and 809 from Tripura.
The Kerala Labour Department said that the government has taken various steps to ensure social security of the workers. As part of its efforts to ensure welfare of the workers, the government recently launched the Apna Ghar project, through which it would provide shelter at minimal rent to all migrant workers residing in the State. A worker will also be able to avail water and LPG supply along with the free shelter facility.
“The Apna Ghar Project aims to provide safe and hygienic accommodation to inter-State migrant workers on rental basis as their poor living conditions are a matter of concern. There is also the danger of spread of diseases within their groups and also among the local population. Taking this into account, and also the contribution by the migrant workers to the economy and development of the State, the Department of Labour and Skills decided to take proactive steps by proving hygienic and safe hostel accommodation at affordable rent instead of depending on the vagaries of the market forces,” an official said.
Kerala has witnessed a steady flow of migrant workers from other States, particularly from West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha over the last two decades.
As a result of higher levels of education and immigration to other countries, particularly to the Middle East, the majority of local people of Kerala are no longer part of the basic work force, thereby creating a significant gap in manpower. Now, migrant workers are bridging that gap and have become a crucial and integral part of the Kerala economy across multiple sectors such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, etc.
However, the housing and living conditions of most of these migrant workers were very poor with limited access even to clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities, the Labour and Skills Department said. “Due to the lack of facilities, they live in cramped temporary housing and their cooking, bathing, etc., often take place in the open. The increasing housing rent has also made it difficult for small businesses to provide good accommodation to the inter-state migrant workers employed by them,” the official added.