MADIKERI:DUE to massive floods, landslides and the widespread destruction in Kodagu, there is hardly any work to be found in the coffee estates. As everyone affected by the floods in the district is trying to rebuild their lives after the devastation, there is very little to spare for workers from Assam and West Bengal, who visit here often looking for work in the coffee estates for `300 per day. As a result, in most places, this has led to the workers being relegated to relief camps, unsure of their future. The state government is unwilling to take on the burden of providing anything more than shelter and short-term relief material to them.
“They came to our quarters and took a headcount at 5.30am on Tuesday. We were told that today(Tuesday) will be the last day we are spending here at the camp and that tomorrow (Wednesday), if our estate manager does not take us back, we will have to go back home,” said Ali(50), a coffee estate worker from Assam.
A total of 127 people, hailing from Assam and West Bengal, are being housed in a relief camp set up in the Government High School in Madapur, a village in Madikeri Taluk in Kodagu. The building where the workers are housed also has several children, all tiny tots, who could be seen playing without a worry on their faces, unlike their parents. “Many of us don’t have enough money to return to hometowns and we don’t know what will happen if the Government here asks them to leave,” said Noor Hussain(33), another worker from the north-eastern state who has been working in Kodagu for 4 years in a row.
However, according to officials, efforts are being made to relocate the workers and send them back to their home state. “We will bear the costs of sending them back,” said a Panchayat Development Officer who did not want to be named.
Ray of sunshine
Flood and landslide-affected residents of the district wore smiles on their faces on Tuesday as a bright sun gave them some hope that they would be able to start rebuilding their lives after torrential rainfall. Several villages which had been evacuated, saw wary residents return to assess the damage.