Kerala expects most migrant workers to return to the state
Migrant workers from Bihar return to Patna from Kerala in a Shramik Special train from Ernakulam during the extended nationwide lockdown, on May 4, 2020.

Kerala expects most migrant workers to return to the state

Thiruvananthapuram, June 6, 2020

Since May 1, when the first train carrying migrant labourers left Kerala, 132 trains have carried 1,82,072 stranded workers back to their homes in various states. On Friday, three more trains left Kerala with workers.

A Kerala labour official told IANS that some of those who returned had expressed their wish to come back. "Calls have come from Bihar, Jharkhand and a few other states from the migrant labourers who returned. They want to return here as things have changed and work has begun in Kerala," said the labour official.

At the height of the lockdown, over 3.80 lakh migrant labourers were housed at 18,000 camps, manned by the Labour Department along with the district administration. The workers were provided free food and recreation facilities at these camps.

The Labour Department is not running any labour camp any more and is trying to put on trains those labourers who wanted to return to their home states.

Also, the state government is busy bringing back Keralites stranded in various states and who have registered on the Norka-Roots web portal.

A leading builder here told IANS that, as the construction work had resumed, workers staying at its accommodations were being deployed.

A labour contractor who supplies migrant workers to various firms told IANS it was natural for all to return home when there were issues.

He said according to information, these migrant labourers were being asked to return to the states they were working in by their family members and village heads. "The situation in many states is not as good as in Kerala. People who have left will definitely return," said the contractor.

In Kerala, while most migrant labourers get around Rs 700 a day, back home it's much less. Also, the state government has started a few schemes, like Awaaz and Apna Ghar, for the migrant labourers.

Under Awaaz, which is an insurance scheme, the state government pays the premium on the migrant labourers' behalf. On enrolment to the scheme, the labourer gets a chip-based card, which carries all his/her details.

Under the Apna Ghar scheme, labourers are provided houses for the rent of Rs 1,000 a month. The first scheme was started in Palakkad, where 620 migrant labourers were put up in flats. The Labour Department is working to set up similar centres in every district.


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