Amid easing of lockdown restrictions leading to partial resumption of economic and trade activities, the Kerala government Wednesday said the state does not want to see the exit of migrant workers.
Of 4.10 lakh migrant workers staying in Kerala after the lockdown, 42,230 have returned to their home states via special trains. Of these, 11,157 have returned to Bihar, and 9,186 to Uttar Pradesh. The rest have gone to Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
Kerala Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan said the state will give all legal protection to migrant workers who want to work in the state. “Kerala does not want migrant workers to go back. Those who want to go home can do so. If those who had returned to their states come back to Kerala, the government would offer them all facilities for taking up jobs,” he said.
The minister said 42,230 migrant workers had returned to their states after lockdown. Another 1.50 lakh may leave the state in the coming weeks, he said.
Labour department sources said workers attached to construction firms, contractors or production units are not keen to go back as they are getting regular work. “We have another category of migrant workers who are scattered and look at odd-jobs. They are demanding that they be taken home. Since several trains have been operated for migrant workers, many are patiently waiting at their residential camps even without going out in search of work. They think that the call to board the next train would come at any time,” sources said.
Some of the migrants have regular work in Kerala but want to go back to their families.
Assim Akthar (25), a native of Malda in West Bengal, is earning Rs 800 a day at a brick unit in Kozhikode. “There is work for me here for six days. But my family keeps calling me back. I want to go home and then come back. I have already registered my name with local officials. As West Bengal is taking us free of cost, more workers are keen to go home,” he said.