At a time when reports are rife about scores of migrant workers walking back to their native states on foot, hit by the coronavirus induced lockdown in the country, Kerala has started a novel scheme to shelters those who came to the state for work and are stuck now.
The state has opened 4,603 relief camps on Friday that have housed 1,44,145 migrant labourers, officially called as guest workers, according to the office of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Another 35 camps opened for 1,545 homeless and destitute people, the CM said. Food, masks, soaps, sanitisers have been made available in all those camps, and in the coming days, more educational institutions will be taken over for these purposes, said Vijayan.
"It is not complete. Workers are still in deplorable conditions in many places. We are seeing this seriously. The concerned District Collectors should take it as an individual responsibility. Labour department can also fruitfully intervene. Local city governments can coordinate all of these. In this way, all systems should prepare the required assistance for them," he told reporters.
Awareness classes for migrant guest workers in their mother tongues by distributing brochures, leaflets and short videos in Hindi, Oriya and Bengali languages, Vijayan said. Health workers who can speak Hindu will also be deployed on the streets for awareness campaigns, he added.
Vijayan also said local governments have been tasked to feed stray dogs and monkey population who are currently starving as streets and temples have emptied. As state-run lotteries shut, 48,454 lottery sellers, mostly differently-abled people, have lost their income. They will be given Rs. 1000 aid. Full salary will be paid for daily wager workers and contract workers in government offices, who would have otherwise lost their earnings as a large section of the official establishments remained shut because of the lockdown.
The lockdown has resulted in a food shortage for household pets and livestock and the state will work to resolve this, Vijayan said. He also directed housing societies to provide water for the police force who are working nearly full time these days.
The state has also suspended debt collection by chit funds and other non-banking institutions, as well as punitive actions by the banks, all auctions including that of gold pledged in financial establishments, and fee payment in educational institutions.
As bars and beverage outlets remain shut, the state excise will work towards strengthing its de-addiction centers, the CM said. A 35-year-old youth in Kerala's Thrissur had committed suicide on Friday, reportedly after suffering depressed over not getting alcohol.