KOCHI: Sreeramulu Naik, a 60-year-old from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, came to Kochi in the first week of August hoping to get some work here. He was accompanied by his wife, brother, sister-in-law and other relatives. But, their plans went haywire with rain playing spoilsport. With no job and money, a roof over their head is a distant dream for them. Left with no choice, Naik and family now find solace under a Metro pillar in the city.
Like Naik, thousands of migrant labourers from all parts of the city who came in searching for work were disappointed after rain wreaked havoc. “We came here because there is no rain in Andhra. At least the space under the Metro pillar stops us from getting drenched. With no earning, this is the best shelter we can get in the city,” says Naik.
Despite reaching the city a week ago, they could get work only for two days. “We were hoping to make some money since the wages here are triple the amount we would get in Anantpur. But, since it has been raining incessantly, agents have stopped seeking workers.
We go different ways in the morning to search for work, but come back here by evening,” he adds. But, the space under the pillars isn't a safe option anymore. “The security staff of the Metro Stations drive us away. We sleep here in fear. Sometimes, we move to pavements or bus stands,” he adds.
Rehabilitation a distant dream
Earlier in the year, the migrant labourers occupying the space under the Metro bridges were evicted by the Kochi Metro Police following the demand of KMRL. However, the corporation still does not have a proper solution for the rehabilitation of these workers.
"There was a proposal to build shelter homes for migrant workers but it did not get sanction. The main reason being that the workers are not willing to pay for the stay," said M G Aristotle, councillor. As per the proposal, the plan was to set up a shelter home at Manappattiparambu. "We will have to appoint an official to monitor them and levy fees for bed space and other maintenance. Though they get paid around `700 - `1,000 a day, they are not willing to pay for accommodation. There is a chance that space will become unused," he added.