Kozhikode

COVID-19 | In Kerala, livelihood at stake for many migrants

A period of uncertainty for the migrant workforce

Uper wale par bharosa hai, Anas, a native of Uttar Pradesh’s Sarangpur village, sums up his feeling of uncertainty. He is one among hundreds of migrant workers who are concerned about their livelihood following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Going home too is a concern for them as many in their villages are apprehensive about their return from a State affected by the pandemic.

 

Following the State government’s social-distancing instructions to contain the spread of coronavirus infection is a tough task for them as most migrant workers stay in congested rooms or crowded labour camps. Beaches and other public places frequented by migrant labourers to unwind are now shut. Many find solace in watching movies in their mobile phones.

Challenging situation

“Many of our friends in the construction sector are now staying indoors. Several trains have already been cancelled following COVID-19 alert making the return journey a challenge,” says Anas, who has been here for more than four years. He feels that many under-educated migrant workers have not realised the gravity of the situation and adopted appropriate precautionary measures.

The closure of many large-scale construction projects subsequent to the precautions against COVID-19 in Kozhikode district has dragged several migrant labourers into an unexpected financial crisis. Only those working in hotels and salons have managed to retain their jobs.

 

Migrant labourers in city salons say the COVID-19 scare and hoax messages associated with the contagion are forcing many customers to keep away. Though the number of customers is on the decline, the owners are yet to think of a total closure as it may prompt us to go home, they say.

“For migrant labourers in Kozhikode, COVID-19 comes as the second biggest challenge after Nipah. Many of those who went back during the Nipah outbreak are yet to be back ,” says Muraleedharan Chaliyil, a contractor in the construction sector. He fears that the latest situation is likely to create labour shortage and stall the construction sector in the days to come.

Awareness campaign

Meanwhile, Labour Department officials say they are busy sensitising migrant labourers to the latest health challenges and the precautionary measures to be taken for their safety. “We have constituted district-level teams comprising Hindi teachers to visit the labour camps and help them manage the situation,” says District Labour Officer (Enforcement) K. Rajan.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 6:19:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/covid-19-in-kerala-livelihood-at-stake-for-many-migrants/article31140557.ece

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