THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Planning Board feels that the 2013 study by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) that the migrant population in the state is 25 lakhs is overestimated. Another exhaustive study by the Planning Board on migrant population statistics is on the anvil and is expected to be completed in a year’s time. The reason for the fall could be that the construction sector is lagging and consequently jobs, most of which were done by migrant labourers.
The 2013 study was undertaken by GIFT director D. Narayana, associate professor C. S. Venkiteswaran and retired bureaucrat M. P. Joseph. The methodology for understanding the numbers and the socio-economic context of the Domestic Migrant Labour (DML) was conducted as per 63 long distance train-based surveys entering Kerala through the Konkan railway and Palakkad while coming in and going out of the state.
As per the earlier study, the DML has almost been entirely male and 75 percent of them are in the age group of 18-29 years with a majority of them coming from West Bengal (20 per cent), Bihar (18.10 per cent), Assam (17.28 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (14.83 per cent). Dr. K. Raviraman, planning board member told DC that the GIFT statistics had been overestimated. “Early next month, a delegation will be leaving for University of York, UK, which comprises a representative of the International Labour Organisation. In the 10-day programme, I will be presenting a paper, ‘Kerala, best practices in migrant labour’. The State Planning Board along with the University of Punjab will be holding a comprehensive study on the migrant population in Kerala when there has been a decline of inland labourers”, said Raviraman.
However, Venkiteswaran said their earlier study was exhaustive and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were avoided. GIFT’s study was the first to be held in the country on the migrant population and was done at the peak when there was a huge surge in labourers coming from the North East and North West and headed mostly for Kottayam and Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district. “After the GIFT study, migration expert Dr. S. Irudayarajan of the Centre for Development Studies had said that there was out migration to the tune of 30 lakh. So roughly our estimate was right then. But now the number of migrant labourers have come down ever since the construction sector has been badly affected”, said Venkiteswaran.