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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Kerala floods: Factories and mills closed as migrant workers go home

Owners of small and medium-scale
industries in these areas have to spend
the next few weeks on concentrated
cleaning and then running from pillar-to-
post in search of government.


39-year-old
Mohammad
Karim has
poignant
memories of
the floods of
1988 that
engulfed his
home back in
Nagaon district
of Assam. Born
into a family of
traditional rice
farmers,
Karim, then just 9 years old, remembers
gathering what little he could before
fleeing the raging waters of the
Brahmaputra that had begun to seep into
his tiny home. He recalls joining his
parents, sisters and scores of villagers to
take refuge at the local railway station,
considered safe as it is situated on a
higher surface.

“Paani ka experience hai humein (We
have experienced the effects of water),”
he says in broken Hindi, smiling. The
familiarity with floods and its trenchant
consequences came in handy for Karim
and his Assamese colleagues this month
when they saw the waters of the Periyar
rise swiftly around their homes and
workplace in Perumbavoor town in
Kerala. The town in Ernakulam district,
considered the nerve center of migrant
labour in Kerala hosting more than one
lakh workers in its surroundings, has
seen a steady outflow of labourers back
to their home states after being ravaged
by floods.

“We had close to 2600 migrant workers
at a relief camp in the town alone. After
water receded and trains began
operating, we estimate a large number of
them have gone back. A lot of factories
and industries have been badly affected
so there’s no work at the moment. It will
take weeks to get back on track again,”
says an officer at the local taluk office.

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