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Suggestions and reccommendations by GIFT for DML
 Story Dated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 16:1 hrs IST 
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From the results emerging from the Study, there is clearly a need to address the following issues urgently:

1) A voluntary registration of DML based on which all benefits to the DML will converge.  
2) Improving Housing and Living Conditions of the DML  
3) Social Security and Health issues
4) Employment Issues
5) Sustaining good relations between the DML and the local populations in Kerala.
6) Help-line in different languages

It is therefore suggested that Government may be pleased to consider taking the following steps and if found appropriate and feasible take measures to implement them expeditiously.

1.       Registration on Arrival in Kerala:

1.1   The issue of Domestic Migrant Labour concerns the domain of many Departments of Government including Labour, Health, Social Welfare, Police, Education, Local Self Government etc. Departments. It is therefore important to link the provision of all government benefits to the Domestic Migrant Labour through a common single point one-time voluntary registration system. It is therefore recommended that the Government may put in place a computerized common system of voluntary registration of the Domestic Migrant Labour in Kerala.

1.2   The procedure for this voluntary registration would have to be a simple one with a registration form that can be filled up in a few minutes. Only the basic details including the DML’s place of origin, names of next of kin to be contacted in an emergency, copy or details of any identity card they are carrying, the place of work in Kerala, name of contractor if any, nature of contract, nature of work etc. need to be entered onto the Register.

1.3   Thereafter a unique Registration Number needs to be generated and the given to the DML along with the Registration Card.

1.4   This voluntary registration would be a valid for availing benefits of all the Schemes that the different Departments of the State Government has to offer the DML including the benefits and services indicated in these Recommendations below. This would avoid duplication of registration of DML by different departments.

1.5   While the lead for the voluntary registration may be taken by the Department of Labour, the facilities for registration should be available at all the offices of the Local Self Government Offices. The format for the Registration may be developed by the Labour Department in consultation with all the relevant Departments such as the Health Department etc.

1.6   It may also be examined if the Registration can also be made available on-line.

1.7   Wide publicity on the benefits of the voluntary registration may be given through TV, press etc. in Kerala in the different languages of the DML and in their States of Origin and on trains coming into Kerala. Every encouragement may be given to the DML to register themselves upon arrival in Kerala.

2.       Housing and Living Conditions:

2.1   Leaving the housing of DML to local market forces has led to the DML having to live in highly crowed and unhygienic conditions. It is important that the State Government initiate steps to provide affordable group housing and associated services (provision of water, electricity, sanitation, toilets, washrooms, ensuring a green environment etc.) to the DML in the state. It is also important that the Government provide subsidies in the State’s Budget for such an Affordable Housing Scheme for DML.

2.2   It is also suggested that the provision of affordable housing and associated services (water, electricity, sanitation, toilets, washrooms, ensuring a green environment etc.) to the DML may be done by the State Government through the formation of a non-profit Company under section 25 of the Companies.  

2.3   Private enterprises with public support may be encouraged to build and provide hygienic accommodation with electricity, running water, sanitation facilities, sufficient toilets, washrooms etc. on reasonable rent to DML especially in the major cities and towns or near areas of major concentration of DML.

2.4   The benefits of these Schemes may be limited to those who register as per Recommendation 1 above.

3.       Social Security and Health Schemes for the DML:

3.1   There being a total lack of Social Security for the DML in Kerala, it is important for the State Government to have a Social Security Net for the DML in the State. It is therefore strongly recommended that the Government introduce appropriate Social Security Schemes for the DML, taking into consideration that the period of their stay in the State is usually very long. The Social Security Schemes should include provision for payment of lump sum to take care of in cases of accidents and serious illness, death, loss of limbs etc.

3.2   The Social Security Scheme may also consider the setting up of a Provident Fund for the DML with contributions from the employers in the case of those who work under a contractor, and a non-contributory scheme fully paid by the DML in the case of those who work on their own.

3.3   The Social Security Schemes may be implemented by one of the Existing Welfare Boards now under the Labour Department of the State Government.

3.4   The Social Security Schemes may be limited to those who register as per Recommendation 1 above.

3.5   The DML are at times a health threat to the local community with reported cases of Malaria and AIDS. Therefore wherever the DML is eligible to be brought under the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Rashtriya Swasth Bhima Yojana (RSBY) (ie. if the DML is from a BPL family), the DML may be encouraged to do so.

3.6   However in view of the relatively high levels of income that the DML are earning in Kerala, it is quite possible that a large number of the DML working in the State do not fall within the eligibility criterion of RSBY. It is therefore suggested that the Government of Kerala design a Kerala State Health Insurance Scheme specifically targeting DML, most of whom may be above the poverty line. The scheme may be on a contributory basis and with subsidies from the Government of Kerala. Being an issue of inter-state migration, both the Government of India (and the Government of the States of Origin that are willing to do so) may also be encouraged to contribute to the Scheme.

3.7   The Health Schemes may be limited to those who register as per Recommendation 1 above.
Employment Issues:

4.1   While there are only very isolated cases of exploitation of DML by employers in the reported, it is yet important that steps are taken to make employers and the DML aware of the Labour Laws and their rights and responsibilities. Towards this it is suggested that the State Government undertake awareness programmes both amongst the employers and amongst the DML, the latter in their languages. The State Government may seek the support of the States of Origin of the DML in these awareness campaigns.

4.2   While no cases of payment of wages below the Minimum Wages have been reported, efforts need to be taken that over-time etc. are given for work over 8  hours.

4.3   Similarly while there have been only very few reported cases of serious accidents at the work-place involving DML, yet efforts need to be taken to ensure sufficient minimum levels of Occupational Safety at the workplace for the DML. This may also have to begin as an awareness drive amongst both the employers and the DML and later as an enforcement effort.  

4.4   The employers should also be encouraged to restrict employment only to DML who have registered themselves as above.

5.       Sustaining Good Relationships between the Local Populations and the DML:

5.1   While as noted in the Sections above, there is at the moment fairly good relations between the local population in Kerala and the DML, it is important that this healthy relationship is sustained over time. Towards this it is important to integrate the DML by developing common platforms of interaction, through cultural exchange programmes, specific schemes dedicated to the socio-educational and cultural  development of DML population; this needs to be a participatory programme with the active involvement of peer leaders/activists from amongst them

5.2   It is also important for the Government and the people of the state to make the DML feel welcome, wanted and at home in the State. It is recommended therefore that the Department of Public Relations of the State Government in conjunction with the Department of Labour to put out advertisements in papers, local TV channels as well as Bengali, Assamese, Odiya etc. TV Channels that explain the State’s Schemes for DML and encourage them to get themselves registered etc.

5.3   Similarly advertisements and programmes targeting the local population in the state and encouraging them to sustain the good relationships that they have with the DML may also be telecast.

5.4   Wide publicity for ongoing schemes for DML may be given in TV channels in their States of Origin as well in TV channels in Kerala in Bengali, Hindi, Assamese, Oriya etc. Such publicity may be also given on long distance trains coming into Kerala and on Railway Platforms etc.

5.5   There is also need to initiate programmes at the level of the Local Self Government to address location specific and industry specific issues relating to the DML.

6.       Help-line in Different Languages:

6.1 It is recommended that the Government (either on its  own or in partnership with Voluntary Agencies, NGOs etc.) set up a help-line for the DML with different numbers for DML speaking different languages (particularly Bengali, Hindi, Assamese and Oriya). The help-line may be manned by persons who understand and speak these different languages and are fully conversant and trained to respond to and guide the DML on all matters including labour laws, health issues, social security, emergency issues etc.      
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