MIGRANT CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN MP:
As per the 2001 census, it is estimated that 2.05 crore of the population in our cities are migrants from the rural areas. Though Madhya Pradesh is neither one of the high in-migrant nor high out-migrant state, intrastate migration is remarkably high. Census data shows that migration, particularly from tribal dominated district like Chhindwara, Betul, Balaghat, Seoni and extremely poor districts like Panna , chatarpur, Morena etc is comparatively higher. Intrastate migration for Scheduled tribes is approximately 6.3 lakhs and the figures for Scheduled castes are comparable. Indore and Bhopal have approximately 2.5 lakh migrants (2001census- from last place of residence) each.
Destination Lines of Migration
The destinations of the intrastate (inter-district) migrants are inconsistent, though destination loyalty does not disappear completely. Thus, those who migrated to Bhopal in the last cycle may migrate to Indore in the current cycle. Further, some districts have higher tendencies for intra-district migration. There are favorite destinations for inter-state migrants. For instance, Jhabua has shown trends of migrating towards Gujrat or Goa, possibly due to proximity of distance and familiarity with culture, while the favorite for Panna and Chhatarpur district is Delhi. Nagpur with its proximity to Betul has been the favoured destination of the migrants from this district. Workers also migrate to Hyderabad, Bangalore and other southern cities. Similarly, migrations from from other states have also shown patterns of favorite destinations. For instance, migrants from Chhatisgarh constitute a large chunk of in-migrants to the state. The destination of migrants undertaking seasonal and cyclical migration- to mitigate distress- has a greater tendency to be inconsistent.
Thus, migration, particularly seasonal migration to mitigate distress, is the prime coping strategy adopted by the poorest to earn a living,
A survey conducted by Samarthan in May 2009 among poor migrants in Bhopal revealed the following facts.
- 49% of the migrants surveyed are between 21-30 years of age and 31% between 31 – 40 years. The average age is 30.
- 68% originate from Madhya Pradesh, 6% from Bhopal itself and 26% from other Indian States.
- 44% of those surveyed have been in Bhopal between one and five years and 28% have been in the city for less than one year.
- With regard to previous occupation, 33% were agricultural laborers, while 37% were daily wage laborers
- Lack of employment is the main reason for migration, for 74% of those surveyed. The rest moved for family/marriage reason.
- 73% of migrants are currently working as daily wagers and are engaged in petty manual labour or in petty construction in Bhopal.
- Pre-migration Income: 12% earned less than Rs. 500, 16% between Rs. 500 and 1000, and just 3% had a previous income between Rs. 2500 and 3000.
- Current Income: 1% earn less than Rs. 500, 7% between Rs. 500 and 1000 and 23% are currently earning between Rs. 2500 and 3000.
Construction and Infrastructure development as employment options for large number of cyclical migrants
A slow GDP growth rate coupled with insufficient number of industries has resulted in fewer employment opportunities. A large number of poor migrants find employment as daily wagers at shops, as sweepers and as construction labour in bigger cities like Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur etc. As the development outlay for construction sector is soaring, is probable that construction and infrastructure development sector is the single largest employer for seasonal migrants in Madhya Pradesh.
Need for Social Security measures
A large number of workers in the construction sector, particularly the ones ‘living on site’ are migrants. Employment conditions in construction sector are poor and migrant workers suffer the most. The unorganized workers receive low incomes, uneven and uncertain in their flow. They desperately need social security cover but lack savings to make the necessary provisions.
Incidentally, our interaction with construction workers in Bhopal reveals, majority of the ‘load carriers’ across the construction sector are migrants from Betul and Chhatisgarh. They live ‘on site’, without any identity, home or citizenship and therefore are denied any rights and entitlements, even the voting rights. They are usually living in temporary sheds, and are treated as encroachers. Police and other law enforcing institution harass them. Also they are prone to accidents/illness and other misfortunes like failed remuneration and remittance due to extremely exploitative and casual nature of payments. This explains the need for Social Security measures tailored to meet the needs of the poor migrants in the construction sector.
Samarthan follows a three pronged strategy to intervene on the issue:
1. MP is one of the few states in the country to have constituted a welfare board to look into the affairs of the construction workers. The MP Bhawan evam Anya Sannirmaan Karmkar Kalyan Mandal (Construction Welfare Board for short) collects cess from construction sites across the state to deliver certain benefits to the construction workers and their families. Samarthan has been engaging the builders, contractors and the worker to generate awareness on Board’s schemes and mode of obtaining the benefits. It has facilitated camps to register workers withe board, and provided handholding support for obtaining the benefits.
2. The inherently mobile nature of poor migrant workers makes it difficult to ensure registration with the welfare board at the point of employment (workers constantly move to newer sites in search of employment). Therefore Samarthan felt it imparative to prepare the Panchayats- the origin point of the workers- to equip them with right information, Board registration, proper identity cards etc. To achieve this Samarthan has set up Migrant Resource Centres in Sehore, Panna, Dhar, Seoni, Betul and Chhindwara with support from local organisations.
3. Looking at the magnitude of the problem, Samarthan appreciates the need for a network to influence the condition of migrants at macro level. As such Samarthan joined the National Coalition of Organisations for Security of Migrant Workers (NCOSMW)- a coalition of VDOs – which will work with UIDAI to deal with identity issues. NCOSMW is a consortium of over 20 civil society organisations (CSOs) across the country serving migrant workers and communities. The NCOSMW will work with the UIDAI to facilitate the enrolment of migrant labour communities for AADHAAR- the unique 12 digit identification number.