The Kerala government is to begin an insurance scheme for the over 2.5 million migrant labourers, mostly from West Bengal, Bihar and the northeast, who work in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday.
“Even though there are rules in the state that all migrant labourers should register with the police station nearest to their residence, it’s not getting the desired results and hence we will soon introduce a new insurance scheme and through this we will be able to get all the details of the migrant labourers who are in the state,” said Vijayan while replying to a calling attention motion moved by Congress legislator V.P. Sajeendran.
He said the last time a survey was undertaken to estimate the number of migrant labourers in the state was in 2013, and it was found that there were an estimated 2.5 million migrant labourers working in Kerala who came from various other states.
“Today those numbers are even higher and as their numbers are increasing, so are the cases registered against them. While 90 per cent of these labourers are here to eke out a living, the rest are those with a criminal record in their home state and that is repeated here. Since we do not have proper registration programmes, we expect all migrant labourers to enroll themselves in the proposed insurance scheme as through it we will be able to get a proper registration of these labourers,” said Vijayan.
The migrant labourers are mostly from West Bengal, Bihar and some northeastern states. Ever since the arrest of an Assamese — Ameerul Hassan — in the murder of a Dalit law student in April at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, there has been an increased demand from various quarters to register the migrant labourers.
Sajeendran observed that of the 24,000 casual labourers engaged by the Cochin Refineries at their new project, around 10,000 were migrant labourers. “And just as we the Keralites who are there in good numbers in other states of the country and abroad and are treated with respect, we also should give the migrant labourers a decent standard of basic amenities,” he said.
Vijayan agreed that the migrant labourers have now become an integral part of the Kerala society and hence, as the host, “we have a duty towards them also”.
“It has come to our notice that they have serious health issues and to ensure that they have good medical support, we will organise special medical camps at their labour camps. We will also ensure that they have all the basic sanitation facilities at the labour camps,” added Vijayan.