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Like Kerala, Karnataka to build transit homes for migrants


BENGALURU: Karnataka is set to emulate Kerala in building transit homes for migrant workers.

The move, prompted by reverse migration during the nationwide lockdown, is aimed at providing better living conditions to migrant workers.

The state government plans to build four transit homes in Bengaluru, each with a capacity to accommodate at least 3,000 workers. These homes will have kitchens for workers to cook their own meals. They will pay a nominal maintenance fee for the stay. Each project is expected to cost Rs 50 crore.

The concept is based on Kerala’s widely appreciated ‘Apna Ghar’ project.

Labour minister Shivaram Hebbar, while confirming the development to ET, said the government has identified 20 acres in Yelahanka where the first such complex will come up.

“I have asked my officials to identify land in three other corners of the city. We plan to accommodate 12,000-15,000 people in the first phase of the project and gradually expand the facility,” Hebbar said.

The migrant workers’ plight during the Covid-19 induced lockdown compelled the state government to come up with the idea, he said.

“Labourers live in extremely poor conditions and we hope transit homes will provide them with safe and affordable accommodation. It will be a confidence building measure,” the minister said.

This is not the first time that Karnataka had planned to build transit homes for migrant workers.

The BJP government in the state had come with a similar proposal in 2013, but the project did not take off.

“This time around, there is a strong reason for the government to implement it,” a senior official at the Labour department said.

Karnataka, specifically Bengaluru city, experienced largescale reverse migration of daily wage labourers following the lockdown that began end-March.

According to the government’s submission before the High Court, 416,000 inter-state migrant workers were sent to their hometowns by the end of June.

The state’s Seva Sindhu portal had received about 1.1 million applications from people seeking transportation facilities, but with the opening of economic activities, the government said 50% of applicants had decided to stay back.

According to the labour department’s estimates, nearly 40% of workers who went home during the lockdown, have returned.

Migrant labourers’ associations have welcomed the government move.

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