District Collector Sheikh Pareeth on Wednesday informed the Kerala High Court that earnest efforts would be made to construct night shelters for the homeless in Ernakulam if land and funds were provided.
The submission was made before the court when a writ petition filed by High Court lawyer Basil Attipetty seeking a directive to establish night shelters in each panchayat came up for hearing.
In a statement, Mr. Pareeth said a meeting convened by him on June 27 was informed that new shelters could not be provided to workers sleeping on the roadside as infrastructure such as land and building were not available.
The meeting requested the Greater Cochin Development Authority to inform the Kochi Corporation regarding the availability of a vacant building to set up night shelters.
The Labour Department has been conducting periodic inspections at construction sites to ensure workers are provided with welfare amenities and dwelling facilities. The collector said the police had not imposed any restriction on migrant labourers. Recognised/registered migrant labourers had to be provided accommodation by their employers, he said.
The collector also pointed out that as per the Kerala Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules 1983 in every place where migrant workers stay at night in connection with work, their employer/contractor shall provide main rest rooms or other suitable alternative accommodation. Besides, separate rooms should be provided for female migrant workers .Therefore, the Act and rules had made adequate provisions to ensure adequate shelter for migrant labourers.
Labourers from other States were migrating to Kerala because of higher wages .The collector said as employers were providing adequate shelter to migrant labourers, there was no need or any obligation on the part of the State government to provide separate shelters.
He said a few migrant workers who had not registered themselves were found wandering in the city. They used footpaths, pavements and bus shelters at night to sleep. Despite earning a reasonable wage, they preferred sleeping in such open spaces, he said.