THRISSUR: The camps held to collect digital and bio-metric data of domestic migrant labourers (DMLs) in Kerala have revealed that a large number of labourers especially from Assam and West Bengal do not have valid documents to prove their national identity.
The camps were conducted by Janamaithri police stations at various DML strongholds including Thodupuzha (in Idukki), Perumbavoor (in Ernakulam) and Punalur (in Kollam).
Data collection was undertaken with the help of a newly developed software.
Community Relations Officers (CROs) of the Janamaithri police stations said that camps were conducted as a pilot project in more than 12 police station limits, and it has been proved that the DMLs had neither voter’s ID nor PAN nor Adhar cards. They all presented stamped authorisation letters claimed to have been issued by the local bodies in their respective states.
According to CROs, thousands of DMLs are in the state, and they are working at various brick kilns, farms and plywood factories in towns like Punalur, Perumbavoor and Thodupuzha.
The camps, however, were held for collecting data as well as issuing safety cards for the labourers. The normal method of collecting details on a printed form and keeping them at the police stations for future reference would not be viable as the labourers’ number has increased substantially over the years, said the CROs.
S Sasidharan from Punalur camp said only 15 per cent of DMLs in the district who came for submitting data had proper ID proofs.
But, according to CRO P K Surendran in Perumbavoor, most of the labourers in his station limit were from Assam, and as many as 50,000 migrant labourers have been working in various plywood factories, shops and hotels. Nonetheless, just over 2,000 labourers had turned up at the camps that lasted till Wednesday.
The CROs said, they were issuing safety cards only to those who had produced valid ID cards.
M P Joseph, who is advisor to the state Ministry of Labour and Rehabilitation and co-author of ‘Domestic Migrant Labour in Kerala’, a study on the living conditions of the DMLs in Kerala, said that the study had indirectly dealt with the security concerns of the workers having no proper ID cards.
As per the study, there are 25 lakh DMLs in the state with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakhs. The state Home Ministry in 2012 had officially stated that only 63,200 such workers have done the mandatory registration with the police.
Reacting to the issue of the DMLs without proper identity, ADGP B Sandhya, nodal officer to Janamaithri Suraksha project, said that she endorsed the idea of collecting biometric data and issuing safety cards to the DMLs. Some details about them was better than having none at all, said Sandhya.
Online Software for Police
The Micro System Information Technology in Kollam has developed the software for the process of data and bio-metric collection.
Pradeep Kumar A, who has developed the software, said that this software could be used online to access the data from different stations as well as data collection and storing.
He said the company has already submitted a report to the state Home Ministry about its various uses and had requested recommending for a wide use in the state as the details saved in the police stations could be accessed through a particular log-in by the cops from anywhere in the state.