Migrant workers hit streets in Kerala demanding transport to return home

South India
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The migrant workers hailing from northern and north eastern states flooded the street at Paippad, a tiny town in Kottayam district, seeking arrangements for their return home.

Hundreds of migrant workers hit the street in a tiny town in Kottayam district on Sunday demanding transport to return to their native places amid the nationwide lockdown, putting the authorities on tenterhooks for hours.

The workers who had gathered at Paippad, a home for about 10,000 migrant workers hailing mostly from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, dispersed after Kottayam district collector and district superintendent of police ruled out the possibility of arranging the transport.

Instead, they offered to provide north Indian food or provisions and alternate accommodation if they lacked facilities in the camps where they live now. District Collector P K Sudheer Babu said the administration could not entertain their demand as they had strict instruction from the Centre to retain the workers in the places where they currently live.

Later, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the movement of the labourers at this juncture would affect the measures being taken by the government to prevent the community spread of the coronavirus. A senior IAS officer has been deputed to ensure the safety and welfare of the migrant workers in the state, he added.

Kerala has an estimated 2.5 million migrant population, slightly less than 10% of its total population. They mostly come from northern states. One out of every four adult males between 20 and 64 in Kerala is likely an inter-state migrant, according to a 2013 study by the state’s labour department.

State Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan said that Kerala had taken all possible steps to protect the interests of the migrant labourers at this hour of crisis. The government has made elaborate arrangements to provide them safe shelter and food.

“There is no need for the migrants to leave the state on account of lack of food and shelter. The workers may have hit the streets after seeing media reports about transport being arranged by Uttar Pradesh and some other states to transport workers stranded in various parts of the country,” the minister said.

Image Credit: The Week

 

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