An election too expensiveApr 30th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Kerala
Huge conveyance expense deters many migrant workers from travelling back to cast their vote
KALPETTA: Hundreds of migrant workers from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu employed in brickyards and kilns in the district may not be exercising their franchise in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Most of these units are located at Panamaram in the district. The huge expense involved in reaching their home deters many from travelling back to exercise their right.
“We would like to exercise our franchise but who will sponsor our expense,” Abdul Samad from Rani Nagar in Murshidabad district in West Bengal asked.
Though he is away from his native place, he keeps himself abreast of the developments in his constituency. “Both the leaders are powerful this time,” he explained his view on senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee and CPI(M) leader Mriganka Bhattacharya, the main contestants in his constituency.
“Even though I cannot cast my vote this time, seven members of my family will exercise their franchise,” he added.
There are more than 20 kilns functioning at Panamaram and nearby areas. Each kiln accommodates 150 to 300 migrant workers a season. Most of them reach here via agents in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu or the kiln owners directly bring them.
They are an exploited lot. Those coming through agencies have to pay a commission to the agency, which may vary from 2 to 5 per cent of their meagre daily wage.
“We are paying Rs.180, excluding food, to the labourers we bring directly from other States, a brickyard owner from Cherupa in Kozhikode district said.
“My family members in West Bengal are engaged in beedi-making and each gets Rs.40 per day,” Anvar Sadath, a worker from West Bengal said.
“We know the wages we get here are very low when compared to the wages in Kerala but we are satisfied with it comparing the low wages in our State,” Mr. Anvar said.
The workers communicate with their families either by letter or by phone once or twice a week.
The workers from Tamil Nadu are mainly from Salem. Though they have a desire to exercise their franchise, the huge amount for conveyance discourages them from casting their votes.
Apart from the brick kilns, migrant workers are employed in hotels, plantations and granite quarries in the district.