KOCHI: The nation saw mass exoduses when Lockdown 1.0 was announced and migrant labourers started fleeing to their native places, many barefoot. Public transport services were either stopped or crowded and the poor labourers decided to reunite with their families or die trying.
However, things are a bit different now, when the second wave of Covid-19 hit Kochi (the distric t continuously maintains a notorious first position in the country in the number of positive cases). After the meeting of higher officials chaired by Labour Commissioner Dr S Chithra in Thiruvananthapuram, stringent measures have been taken in the district to create awareness and lend a helping hand to the other state workers and their families.
Call centres opened
“Call centres and control rooms have opened in all the districts. Officials from the labour department are frequently visiting the worksites to create awareness and educate them. The registered contractors, who have brought them to the state have been informed to urgently report any positive case. If anyone feels insecure after a male in the family is taken to Covid centre after turning positive, they will be separately taken care of with food and accommodation,” said K M Sunil, additional labour commissioner.
He said the department will also give a proposal to start a separate vaccination centre for migr ant workers in each district. “The migrant workers have a feeling that Kerala is safer than other states and they do not want to leave now. We are mostly concentrating on four major areas — vaccination, frequent awareness camps, testing if they show symptoms, and providing language-specific call centres exclusively for the migrant labourers,” he added.
‘Atithi Devo Bhava’
Ernakulam started the first control room in the district collectorate, exclusively for the migrant workers, under the project ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is like God). The centre will directly call the workers who are Covid positive to check if anyone requires hospital care. If one patient requests hospital care, the centre will arrange the same. Those who have turned positive and those who are observing quarantine are free to call the control room on 9072303275, 9072303276. Contractors of these labourers are also free to call the centre. The service will be available in English, Assamese, Bengali and Odiya. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences is helping these call centre services.
Perumbavoor on high alert Since the maximum migrant workers are staying in and around Perumbavoor, officials from the labour department are frequently visiting the labour camps here. A team led by assistant labour officers Jayaprakash and T K Nasser visited the Bengal colony in Perumbavoor on Sunday. They explained the preventive measures and prepared a list of people aged above 45 to be vaccinated. “According to our survey, there are 45,000 migrant labourers in the district. However, unofficially, this number could be 60,000 to 70,000.
At times, this number could go up to one lakh also. Recently, there is a tendency among migrant workers, especially those from West Bengal, to return to their state. This has nothing to do with the pandemic, but the election there. People staying here said they have saved enough and assured that their jobs are also secure,” said district labour officer V B Biju.
Job security assured to other state labourers
Separate vaccination centres for guest workers proposed
Call centre numbers: 9072303275, 9072303276
Languages available:English, Assamese, Bengali,Odiya