KOCHI: If migrant labourers do not turn up for work for even a single day, the development projects in Kerala will take two steps backwards, so is the dependency of the state on them. An estimated 25 lakh migrant labourers are sweating it out to redraw the landscape of the state.
But for the last one-and-half years, the presence and activities of Maoists have been reported from across Kerala, especially in the Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kannur districts. Following this, the state police had intensified search in migrant labour camps and many people without proper identification details were asked to bring it from their homeland, unfortunately many of them have not come back. Reportedly there is a shortage of over 20 per cent of migrant labourers in many of the big-ticket construction projects in the state, including Smart City, Phase-II of Infopark, Kochi Metro, Kannur Airport, Konni Medical College and the expansion project of BPCL in Kochi. Going forward, migrant labour shortage will deepen further, industry sources said. “All the mega projects in the state depend on migrant workers as they constitute 80-90 per cent of total work force. Following Maoist attacks, police have increased search in labour camps.
Over 60 per cent of the total migrants in Kerala comes from West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Odisha. When some problems are reported they will get frightened, and once they leave the state many don’t return. This is likely to affect the construction sector in Kerala as a large number of workers are not readily available in the state,” said sources with the construction sector. There are over 25 lakh domestic migrant labourers in Kerala with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakh. It is a work force consisting almost entirely of single males aged between 18 to 35 years. Over 60 per cent of them work in the construction sector.
“In northern districts of Kerala, when the police had intensified search for Maoists, migrant labour camps were raided frequently. Workers without proper identification details were asked to submit them as early as possible. Many people went to their home state and remained there. With Maoist presence reportedly increasing in the state, the construction sector in Kerala is likely to witness labour shortage,” said Unnikrishnan, a construction contractor in Kochi.
“Inspection in migrant labour camps has become routine now following Maoist threat in the state. In Perumbavoor, where the influx of migrant workers is more, the inquiry has been going on for some time. So far nothing significant was found out,” said A D Balasubrahmanian, Assistant Commissioner-Special Branch, Kochi.