Kerala

Most migrant labours come from Karnataka in Kasaragod, Wayanad

A monograph on inter-State workers, widely referred to as migrant labour, toiling in various sectors in Kasaragod district reveals that together with Wayanad, the district has a high concentration of labourers from Karnataka, not from the regions adjoining Kasaragod, but drawn from the backward regions of northern Karnataka such as Bagalkot, Belagavi, Gadag, Haveri, Koppal, Hassan, Dharwad and Bellary.

Many of these workers are with their families and children and are engaged for cheap labour in the laterite mines, construction industry and the granite/marble units and furniture/plywood factories located in the Sitangoli and Vijayanagar industrial estates, maintains the monograph brought out by the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, a think-tank based at Perumbavoor, in collaboration with the Thummarukudy Foundation.

Similar ‘district migration profiles’ will be released on all the 14 districts in the coming days, says Benoy Peter, who along with fellow researcher Vishnu Narendran travelled across the State to carry out a survey on migration patterns, source States and places and areas where they are concentrated in each district besides a token social profile of the workers.

“Widespread consultations with experts on migrant labour in industry, labour, education and health sectors were conducted before a team comprising researchers conversant in at least four languages set out to do the field study,” says Mr. Peter.

“In the case of Kasaragod, for instance, the migrant labour force comprises mostly those from the drought-prone districts of North Karnataka.”

Kasaragod’s economy is primarily agrarian, but these workers, also from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, are mostly in other sectors. A pattern all over the State is that they are sheltered in makeshift dormitories covered with corrugated sheet. But the report has also mapped, in detail, the labour nakas, junctions, too, he says.

In addition to district-wise migration profile, the centre is also coming up with a sector-specific profile of migrant workers and reports on two major sectors, marine fishing and construction, are already in the public domain. The monograph on the construction industry distinguishes between migrant workers in large scale construction sector, where they are mobilised from various source states through a network of contractors and agents often with advance payment of wages which are relatively low compared to their counterparts, mostly footloose migrants, engaged for minor construction activities.

Women workers, while being a rarity, were found working at Sitangoli. “They were from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra,” says Mr. Peter. “The migrant workers on small construction sites get higher daily wages compared to those at larger construction sites, ranging from 400 to 650 and even beyond for unskilled work (sic),” the study states.

It also points out their non-integration in various welfare funds by the State and an absence of unionising. The monograph on migration in marine fishing sector maps the ubiquity of traditional fishers from five other States. However, migrant men and women, mostly from Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Jharkhand and Nagaland, work in the State’s fish processing hubs in Alappuzha and Kollam.

Mr. Peter says the centre is due to release monograms on some eight source States as well. “In all, there will be some 30 reports on migration in the next few months, seeking to plug the information gap on migration in Kerala’s labour sector. There will also be a comprehensive report collating all key information and data which will be helpful in furthering our understanding of the dynamics of migration to Kerala as also to plan services for them.”

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 1:47:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/most-migrant-labours-come-from-karnataka-in-kasaragod-wayanad/article19770876.ece

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