About 63 per cent of the children of migrant workers suffer from various diseases with fever being the most common ailment. This was one of the findings of a study by Aide et Action, an non-governmental organisation, in the construction sites and brick kilns around Chennai.
Lack of immunisation, proper nutrition and health facilities at the worksites were some of the reasons for the frequent illness of the children. About 650 children aged up to eight years belonging to 506 migrant families in construction sites and brick kilns were covered under the three-month study. It was also found that 33 children are still engaged as part-time or full-time labourers.
On the study released in the city on Tuesday, K. Sivagami, regional manager, Aide et Action, said that nearly 95 per cent of the children were living in polluted and dusty localities. Nearly 99 per cent houses did not have proper ventilation or sewerage facility. Half of the children do not have access to immunisation or basic first aid owing to lack of services at the worksite.
Similarly, on the education front, only half of the children of migrant workers have access to the primary education. However, much needs to be improved to provide access to anganwadis, she said. S. Martin, programme officer of Aide et Action, said most children are confined to the working site and do not have much access to recreation. “We are planning to set up 15 early childhood care and education centres in worksites,” he said.
Besides providing affordable health care in the vicinity of the work places, the study recommends a detailed mapping of the migrant families and sensitisation of the owners to provide basic amenities to the families.
Responding to the study, C. Gnanasekara Baburao, additional director, Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health said that a separate wing to implement Building and Other Construction Workers Act is being formed in the directorate. Once it is set up, surveillance on construction sites would be increased.