A visit to Slums of Manappaty Parambu on 02/07/2009 A report: Localities v.


Internal migration is now recognized as an important factor in influencing social and economic development, especially in developing countries. The city of Cochin has the reputation of a young rising metro in India. It has all the potential to be city like Mumbai or Chennai in the years to come. But it miserably fails in the management of these resources for the social welfare. The local authorities tend to forget that along with construction of skyscrapers it is also essential to achieve Millennium Goals such as eradication of poverty and providing basic amenities of life mentioned in Indian constitution. Among those who have a proper place to live complain of guttery and uneven roads and dirty streets. Those who doesn’t have one, has no choice but to evade some government owned land. This has been one of the major problems this city has been facing since its rise in the real estate market value. Our recent visit to Manappatiparambu, one of the infamous slums in the heart area of Cochin helped us to gauge the intensity of the issue. We met the localities as well as the migrants. We heard both the views and came to a conclusion which is far more pragmatic.

What did local residents have to say? Local residents of Manappaty Parambu, were not at all in good terms with migrants who were residing in the plot which is under the ownership of GCDA and Kochi Corporation when we visited there on 2nd July. They accuse the activities of migrant labours to be the main cause behind unhygienic nieghbourhood, disturbances in the night, polluting the environment and increasing crimes. Locals believe that even though the migrants have enough money to rent a house they deliberately restrain from it, in order to save money. In this way they are using the limited public resources such as fresh water taps etc for bathing of tax paying locality’s cost. They have been complaining of Kochi Corporation’s senseless decision to waste the resources by allowing migrants to live in a plot, situated in the centre part of city, which if wisely used, is a major revenue source. What did the migrants have to say? As the migrant homes were demolished on 1st July, i.e. a day before we visited there, the migrant was in a very sorry state of affairs. They were mainly from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. About 70% of the inhabitants had left before we came. They follow a schedule of 3 months of labour outside their homeland and remaining 8 months back to their homes. According to their testimonials, on an average they receive around Rs.350 per day for manual labour, gardening, farming etc. They say that there are very few Anti-social elements within their group who creates all the problems in the nieghbourhood for which a large number of innocents need to suffer. They points out that the most of the criminals are from Tamil Nadu besides they don’t have a proper identity also. All the houses which were earlier occupied by them have been demolished and the plot is going to be turned into a parking lot.

They complain that the locals refuse lent houses to them due to cultural reasons and fear. In a meeting of one of the residents’ associations in the city, a Police Officer in the local police station is reported to have warned the residents of the need for taking additional precautions while renting out the premises to the migrants.

Around 60% of the total enumerated populations were females. As far as inter-state movement is concerned there is a significant sex difference is found. The reasons for migration have been classified into seven broad groups – work/employment, business, education, marriage, moved at birth, moved with family and others. It is observed that employment among males and marriage among females are the main reasons for migration. Associational reasons – movement on account of accompanying parents or any other member of the family is elicited second most important reason among both male and female intercensal migrants. JAWAHARLAL NEHRU NATIONAL URBAN RENEWAL MISSION Development of slums are one of highest priorities in common minimum programme of the incumbent government through this project for providing shelter, basic services and other related civic amenities with a view to providing utilities to the urban poor. It is proposed to take up a comprehensive programme of urban renewal and expansion of social housing in towns and cities, paying attention to the needs of slum dwellers. It offers projects for providing houses at affordable cost for slum dwellers, urban poor, economically weaker sections (EWS) and lower income group (LIG) categories. This will be administered by the Ministry of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation through the Sub-Mission Directorate for Basic Services to the Urban Poor.

There is growing evidence in India to suggest that the country is moving fast in the overall development. Structural transformation in the 1990s has propelled the growth of the economy further. The percentage of people below poverty line has reduced and per capita consumption has improved simultaneously. Although Indian economy is predominantly agricultural, the proportion of work force engaged in agricultural activities has fallen significantly. This reduction is perhaps, a sign of enhanced job opportunities in other sectors. A quick look at the flow matrix shows that the poorest states in terms of state’s per capita income have moved to states with high per capita income for higher wages and better opportunities. Kerala: A Gulf for migrant labourers Kerala is witnessing large inflow of migrant labour from different parts of the country in recent years. Though labourers from states as far as West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa now flock to Kerala, those from the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu out number others by a big margin. Higher wages for unskilled labour in the state, large opportunities for employment and shortage of local labour, paradoxically despite the high unemployment rate in the state, led to the massive influx of migrant labour to the state. With signs of rapid growth of state’s economy and the increase in activities particularly in

the infrastructure and construction sectors, the inmigration is expected to grow faster in the coming years. The other side of the hype The migrant labourers get much higher monetary wages than in their native places. But, they work for longer hours and their real wages may be lower as they have to incur higher cost of living in Kochi on food, shelter and transport. They live in shanty houses/rooms in slum like localities often on a sharing basis. A few of them live on verandas of shops. They have limited access to sanitation facilities and safe water. Their practices of waste disposal pose problems of public health and environment. Their working and living conditions and habits make them suffer from a number of diseases. But their access to public services like health and education is limited. They enjoy very limited protection from labour laws. They also face problems of social integration in Kerala. There are reports of large number of human rights violations. With the possibility of much larger influx in view of the large scale expansion of economic activities in the State, the migrants can put heavy pressure on urban infrastructure, environment and public services. They may also pose many challenges in governance particularly of urban areas. Most of the migrant workers live in shanty houses/rooms in slum-like localities often on a sharing basis. In many cases, the houses/rooms are over crowded. Only one in twenty families lives in an independent house. Others live mostly in a single room or share a house with others. This pattern is different from the usual pattern of accommodation of Malayalee families in Kerala. Many of the migrant families live in small houses or rooms where adequate toilet facilities are absent. Few of the workers who are not accompanied by their family members live in verandahs of shops. Sharing of one toilet by two or more

families sometimes force some of them to use the public places instead of toilets. Pressure on government? The current analysis alerts policy makers, planners and administrators at the State as well as local levels on some of the issues resulting from the rapid growth in migrant population. It pointed out that in view of the rising in-migration, questions related to governance, public health, sanitation, water supply, housing, urban environment, education and infrastructural needs, and law and order warrant greater attention. The large influx of migrants from different parts of the country with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds puts pressure on governance as well as civic amenities. Problems are also expected to crop up due to the absence of reliable information on the quantum of in-migration of a floating nature and these migrants are unlikely to be taken into account while making population projections and consequently in planning. For integration issues relating to migration into local governance, alternative population projections that include migrants of all types have to be made. It is recommended that the volume and diversity of the migrant population has to be taken into account in urban planning and implementation of programmes and projects such as Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission and Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project.

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