Consultation on Interstate Migration and Migrant Workers Situation in India

Migration is part and parcel of life for every living being.   There are several reasons for migration and the most prominent one is for survival and livelihood. Increasing poverty, disparity and growing industrialization and urbanization forces people to move from place to place. Migrants are inherently vulnerable and often loss their identity, statesmanship and loss their privileges and provisions of the government schemes and benefits.  It is in this circumstances, Vigil India Movement (VIM) organized a Consultation on “Interstate Migration and Migrant Workers Situation in India” on Saturday the 30th January 2016 between 9.00AM and 4.00PM at the KROSS (Karnataka Regional Organization for Social Service), 58/6 second cross, De’casta Layout, Wheeler Road extension, Bangalore to address the issues concern to migrant workers in India.  27 participants consist of Social Activist, Human Rights Defenders and individuals from different sectors attended the consultation.

Mr. John VM Juliana, welcomed the participants and resource team.  Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, Hon. Director, VIM delivered a opening remarks for the consultation and briefed why VIM took initiatives in inviting people from various sector and whose interest are common in protecting and promoting the Rights of Migrants in India.  

Fr. Martin Puthussery from Indian Social Institute, Bangalore took a session on ‘Socio, Economic, Political and Cultural Challenges faced by Migrant Workers in India’.  Fr. Martin highlighted that a decreasing percentage in agricultural farming, extreme poverty is root cause for distress migration and migrant workers are paid less wages in several cases the owners withheld wages through which they are forcing migrants to work in their firm for long run and force them to work more than 14 to 18 hours a day.   There is no proper shelter and protection for migrant workers as specified by Migrant Workers amendment in India.  Accidents and deaths are very common in workplace and none of the companies generously provide compensation to family members until and unless the incident is brought to public. Migrants are losing their identity, voting rights and government provisions.  Fr. Martin, who has extensively travelled from West Bengal to Kerala and done research on Migrant workers situation, gave a statistics on reported incidents of exploitation to migrant workers throughout the country.   At the end of his session, Fr. Martin raised a doubt, whether Article 15 and 19 of Indian Constitution is properly understood or reached to the concerns employing Migrants in India.

Mr. N.P. Samy and Mr. Walim Khan from Karnataka State Construction Workers Union, explained about the pathetic situation of Metro Rail Construction Workers in Bangalore.  Metro Rail Corporation is one of the divisions of Indian government, which has all the regulation and guidelines to employ migrant workers and ensure to provide proper shelter, sanitation, security and proper compensation in case of accidents least bothered to follow the regulations.  Most of the migrants are from UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa and their literacy level is below 8th standard.  Average age group of workers are between 17 and 35 in which 46% of the workers are getting less than Rs. 8000/- per month and 30% of the workers are getting 8000 to 9000 per month as salary.  Mr. N.P. Samy further added that the appointed officers concerned to migrant workers welfare were not monitoring the standards prescribed by the government rather they are only interested only in receiving commissions from the contractors.

Ms. Kathayini Chamaraj from CIVIC Bangalore took a session on Rights of Migrants Workers: UN Mechanisms and India’s Legal Provisions.  She has very briefly outlined the International amendments to protect the Rights of Migrant Workers and Interstate Migrant workman Act. 

During the sharing session, Ms. Geeta Menan, Ms. Vinitha, Ms. Savitha and Mr. Hemant Kumar shared their NGO experience working with Migrants and their children in Bangalore.  Dr. Madhumathi and Mr. Bhaskar moderated pre and post lunch sessions while sharing their experiences. 

At the concluding it was suggested to have a national level consultation by inviting several activists and NGO representatives to bring out a solid statement to appeal the government to monitor the migrant workers situation and help the migrants to strive for their rights.    Mr. John VM Juliana coordinated the programme.

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