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Kerala Plans Special Housing Scheme for Plantation Workers

As per the survey of labour department in the state, as many as 32,591 workers are homeless as well as landless.
Kerala Plans Special Housing

New Delhi: As part of its inclusive development policies, the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala will soon build homes for thousands of plantation workers, most of whom are landless and homeless.

A special project ensuring own houses for plantation workers will soon be launched across the state, according to sources.

As of now, Beverages Corporation will construct 100 houses for the flood-affected families, including families of plantation workers, said TP Ramakrishnan, the minister for Labour and Excise, at the floor of state legislative Assembly on Monday.

As per a survey by the state labour department, as many as 32,591 workers are homeless as well as landless. The details of these workers have been submitted to Life Mission -- the project by the Pinarayi Vijayan government that envisages a comprehensive housing scheme for all landless and homeless people across the state.

Under the project, plantation workers who have land will get Rs 4 lakh each to construct houses. For plantation workers who do not have land, the government will give apartments. The government will find the land for these apartment complexes.

One of such apartment project is being progressed in Devikulam Taluka in Idukki district. The people who are already there in the list of Life Mission will be benefited by this project.

The process of acquiring 5.49 acres of land from the revenue department is going on for constructing houses for plantation workers who do not have land, Ramakrishnan said in a Facebook post.

Read More: Kerala Announces Labour Policy; Minimum Wage to be Rs 600 per day

The plantation sector in Kerala mainly includes tea, coffee, cardamom and rubber. A study in 2017 suggests that tea plantation workers were among the poorest paid in Kerala compared with other daily wage workers.

Though wages of tea plantation workers are much higher than the states like Assam and West Bengal, it is much lower than the prevailing daily wages in the state that is Rs 600. At present, tea plantation workers in Kerala get Rs 351 a day. The plantations workers in Assam get Rs 167 per day while daily wage workers in government run tea gardens get only Rs 115.

As per the state’s agriculture report in 2016-17, Kerala has 30,205 hectares of tea plantations. According to data from the Indian Labour Bureau statistics, the state employees around 40,000 workers daily in 86 tea estates.

Majority of these plantation workers don’t have land rights and they live in small settlements near the plantations. The management offers them a place to live, which are known as line rooms.

In Kerala, the government has so far made multiple efforts to revise the wages of plantation workers. The meeting convened by the Plantation Labour Committee on December 21 last year to discuss the wage revision of plantation workers remained inconclusive. During the meeting, the management offered a hike of only Rs 30 a day against the demand of Rs 600 as the base rate for all the plantation crops.

Since the wage revision remained inconclusive, the state government in February this year declared a hike of Rs 50 per day as an intimidatory relief. The Plantation Labour Committee is scheduled to meet again on November 14 to discuss the wage revision.

Read More: Tea Workers Demand Hike in Minimum Wages in India

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