The Kerala government, in a first in the country, has undertaken projects to provide safe, economical and hygienic rental accommodation for migrant workers.
The project named, ‘Apna Ghar Project’, is shouldered by Bhavanam Foundation, a public sector non-profit company owned by the state government.
The Kerala government’s Apna Ghar scheme and the completion of its first venture come months after a fake audio clip that surfaced on WhatsApp, inducing panic among migrant workers. The audio clip said that migrant workers from northern and eastern parts of the country were facing death threats in the state.
Kerala has a migrant population of 2.5 million persons.
The government on Sunday announced the completion of its first venture under the Apna Ghar scheme, a 4 storied building with 64 rooms, in Kanjikode, Palakkad district. The project was completed at a total cost of Rs 8.5 cr by the government.
The 4 storied building is built in three blocks, with 32 kitchens, 96 bathrooms, 8 dining halls and cloth drying areas. One room is expected to accommodate as many as 10 workers with bunker bed facilities. This means that a total of 640 workers will find their "home away from home" in this building.
Speaking to TNM, Dr G L Muraleedharan, Chief Operating Officer, Bhavanam Foundation, said, “There is a tendency to inflict fear among the migrant workers in the state. This is a scheme from the government to drive away such fears and threats among the migrant workers and make them feel at home.”
Muraleedharan further added, “We have also taken security measures to ensure safety in the hostel. Security guards will be employed soon in the hostel. We will have a separate agency engaged for maintaining cleanliness in the hostel. The workers are also provided with resting areas on each floor for relaxing after a day’s long hard work.”
The officer said that the hostels will be made available to the workers at a cheap price and that the workers are expected to cook for themselves.
“We are trying to make the project very economical for the workers. The hostels will be made available to them at a cost anywhere between Rs 750 - Rs 1000 per month, inclusive of all expenses. Since we have workers from diverse cultural backgrounds, we haven’t made canteen facilities for them yet. The workers are expected to cook as of now, but we are trying to see if we can incorporate canteen facilities in our upcoming projects," Muraleedharan said.
A 44000 sqft building has been constructed under the guidance of Centre of Science and Technology For Rural Development (COSTFORD), a Thrissur city-based organisation that gives technological assistance to people in alternative building technology. The construction was also supervised by Kerala Industrial Technical Consultancy (KITCO).
The state government and Bhavanam Foundation together will soon start the construction work for similar projects in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. Bhavanam Foundation confirmed that the government has already sanctioned land for ‘Apna Ghar Project’ in Thiruvananthapuram and that the construction will begin soon.