Even as relief and aid pours in from across the world for Kerala, which has faced one of the worst floods in decades, reports are emerging that non-Malayali workers are being discriminated against in relief camps in Kerala when it comes to providing relief material. As per reports, the migrant workers have been the ‘least priority’ for the locals in rescue operations where the rescue boats which came to evacuate people to the church came to them last. As if that was not enough, they were later on discriminated against food and supplies.
Few volunteers even reportedly refused to give aid to migrant workers and at many places asked to leave the camp. Migrants workers, mostly from West Bengal, were in the worst-affected areas of the flood in Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Palakkad districts. It is estimated that about 1 lakh migrant workers from Bengal are in helpless condition.
The condition of migrant workers in relief camps was so bad that authorities had to open exclusive camps for migrant workers. In a camp in Perumbavoor, the government had to set up a separate camp for migrants after locals refused to share space with them. While some employers paid the workers their dues, many didn’t and the migrant workers were left high and dry with no money, no food and no relief coming their way. 20% of migrant workforce comes from Bengal, 18% from Bihar, 17% from Assam and 15% from Uttar Pradesh. Some migrant workers also said that the state government did not effectively communicate to the migrants in low lying area for timely evacuation as most of the warning notices were in Malayalam.
Kerala faced one of the worst floods in decades where hundreds of people have lost their lives and thousands have been displaced. The state and central government have mobilised all possible resources towards relief and rescue operations. Unfortunately, even a natural calamity was used to settle political scores.