Thursday, June 2, 2011

Re: [ZESTCaste] 'Animals here are better off than human beings in this cursed, holy region'


Dear All

I tend to agree with this statement, also would like to share an expose of migrant workers.

Fact finding on death of a two year
migrant girl death


Date of visit: 30/5/2011

Visit to: Sathya Sai Medical College, Kancheepuram district

Purpose: To 
investigate death of a 2 year old girl (Bandan) from a migrant family on

NGO: Rural Development Trust

Referred by: Ms Geeta, Unorganised Workers Federation

 Investigator: Ms
Ranjani Kamala Murthy Independent Researcher and Activist

People met/interviewed:

Tamilian day shift Watchman of Sathya Sai
Medical College

Orissa Night shift watchman of Sathya Sai
Medical college who had arranged access of 
Bandan's parents to work through his contact with a Bengali woman agent

Child care center teacher (two months not
running, because building is inadequate)

Four migrant workers from UP (including one
youth around 18 years)

Four migrant workers from Orissa

RDT Director, Mr Ezhumalai and staff, Mr


The family had left for Orissa yesterday, and
according to the night watchman will be back in a week.  But this remains to be seen 

Important findings
on settlement:

Satya Sai Medical College was
established on 150 acres of agriculture land acquired on the name of public
purpose.  The College is still under
construction, but a part of it is completed and is already functioning, and
"supposedly" rendering medical services at cheaper rate than private health

Four years back there were 1500 migrant families working on
the construction site.  At that time they
were mainly from Andhra Pradesh. They were hired by contractors.  Now there are 300 migrant families, of whom
50% are from Orissa, 35% from Andhra Pradesh, 5% from Uttar Pradesh, and 5%
from West Bengal.  It is mainly bachelors
from UP and West Bengal, but the entire family has migrated in the case of
Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.  Majority of
migrants are reported to be dalits and adivasis.  More than 60% were reported to be
landless.  Single women were reported to
constitute 5-7% some with children, and some without children.  A few upper caste Rajputs have migrated from
central UP for reasons such as death of mother, remarriage of father, alcoholic
and abusive fathers.  Half of the Rajputs
had land.  MNREGS was not reported to be
working effectively in these states, and the wages were below what they could
get here.

Most of the migrants were
reported to have come through agents, with advance payments ranging from Rs none
o Rs 15000, averaging 10000. The wages    

Amenities in settlement were
abysmal and government rules for migrants were grossly violated

The same water for drinking and bathing

No toilet facilities, with women being forced
controlled their bladder resulting urinary tract infections. If they had
diarrhea the problems were immense.   

Aliminium tin sheet houses 6ft by 10 ft,  with being arranged by the family itself.

The houses are next to each other like a cubicle
with no privacy or safety for single women, 
adolescent girls and women in general.

The housing was reported to be terrible hot  during summer, resulting in burns, chicken
pox, measles, small pox etc.

No ration card

No balwadi center by government in the premises,
nearest is 2 km

No child care center by the College. The NGO was
running a child care center till three months back for children < 5 years
providing nutritious food. Right now it has stopped running, because the tin
sheets were too hot and the College refused to provide pucca shelter for the
child care center.  The children (20 in
number now) are roaming around. The NGO plans to resume child care services in
June first week  

No education services by the College, nearest
school 2 km but the language taught is tamil, NGO is running a primary school
in Telegu with mid day meal.  

Health services, while subsidized by the College
were not free for workers

Government PHC was eight kilometer away, and
language is a barrier. Further, doctors were not reported to be  treating them and did not know their

No contraceptive services available for women or
men. No Village health nurse visits the area

Working hours are from 9 to 6 (9 hours), if one
takes travel time it works to 10-11 hours  

6 and half days of work, with half a day given
for purchasing groceries etc

No maternity leave is given by employers, with
pregnant upto 8 months reported to be working

No maternity assistance provided by employer or
by government

None enrolled in labour welfare board in their
home state or here

Wages for unskilled work were Rs 180 for men and
Rs 150 for women of which some was taken by the contractor towards advance (if
not paid).  If Tamilians were recruited
it would be a minimum of Rs 350 for men and Rs 300 for women

Wages for masons, plumbers, electiricians were
higher at Rs 400. However, if Tamilians were recruited it will be atleast Rs

Men and women are put on night duty in shifts
(not as a family), providing little safety for women who are left with/without
their children in the night 

No bonus was provided

If they do not work they are not paid for that

Five male workers from west Bengal (Khusbihar 4
and Calcutta (1) reported that their agent apart from providing food had not
made any payment to them for the last one month since they came here.  Train ticket was born by them, but they had not
paid money to the agent. So today they were contemplating going back.    

It was reported that 80% of men and 10% of women used pan
paraag, zarda, beedi etc. Men in addition consumed alcohol.  Part of the reported reason was anxiety.


Second hard findings on the death of Bandan from Orissa

Age: 2 years

Sex: Female

Mother's name: Geeta

Father's name: Unknown

District unknown

Caste: Unknown

Religion: Hindu

Reason for migration: No land
other than house, poverty in Orissa 

Not enrolled in labour welfare

Siblings: Names unknown three
brothers aged 6 years, 4 years and 3 years and one sister aged 5 years.   None were in school

The couple is not reported to use
any contraception

Duration in Sathya Sai
college:  One week before death

Reason for moving to Sathya Sai
college: The family was reported by the night watchman to have been earlier
with an agent called CDS who did not pay them properly for around 6 months.
They hence approached the night watchman who put them in touch with the Bengali
woman construction recruiting agent. As per the Oriya watchman, the Bengal
woman agent did not take any money from them. 

Reported reason for death:

Almost a day after joining work,
the family thought that they girl had developed "ammai"  (small pox or chicken pox) and did not see
the need to take to the doctor. IT IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER THE PARENTS LEFT HER WITH
FEVER AND WORKED. On the fourth day they took the doctor in Sathya Sai medical
college. As per the Oriya watchman they could not afford medicines recommended
by the college doctors, who did not give free medicines.  The parents approached the NGO, the  NGO advised them to go to a government
hospital. But the Sathya Sai Medical college is reported by the people not to
have allowed them to leave the premise.  
The parents were reported to not know the final diagnosis.  On Sunday, before her death she ate chicken
with her family and soon died. Post death scenario

No postmortem was carried out by the agent or
the College or the government

No compensation was provided to the family by
the agent or by the College or by the government

The family had to bury the child in the premises
and were not allowed to leave for Orissa immediately.  

The death was not registered

The family was not allowed to bury the children
in the general burial ground of the Tamilian people 2 km away. 

Two days after her death they had to resume work

The family left one week later (yesterday) with
according to the night watchman with some money being given by the agent    

According to the Night watchman they will return
in a week's time.  But this merits

On Monday, the NGO came to know
about the death and called Unorganized Workers Federation and Concern for Child
Rights to help them to speak to the family in Hindi/Oriya.  RDT was constrained by language.

Immediate Recommendations:
(can you all add asi i know less )

To government:

Investigate the case of death of
this girl (including post mortem), and register case against the Hospital and

Provide compensation to parents

To ban agents so that the final
employers can be held to account, and arrest agents who have not paid wages so

To register all migrant workers
with immediate effect in labour welfare board

PHC/VHNs in Tamil Nadu to provide
health services to migrant families as to others and visit them more frequently
than local people.  Preventive health
education to be provided. 

Government should ensure child
care services from early morning upto the time of return of parents and provide
nutritious meals and snacks. Toilet facilities should be attached to the child
care services

Government to run primary health
care centers in places of work 

Government to run schools in
mother tongue in location of migrant workers and provide mid day meals and
afternoon snacks.   

Regulate space, quality and
spacing of shelter provided by employers. It has to be in line with government
housing policy for permanent residents.  

Regulate quality of drinking
water, bathing water, toilet (sex disaggregated with proper bolts, lights) and
garbage disposal in migrant settlements

To provide ration card to

To ensure separate settlement and
women security for single women, or put a women security person in addition to
male security 

The final employers should
register employees with labour welfare board in recipient states

The Labour department of the
local state from which people migrate should register migrants there

To collect cess from employers as
per applicable legislation

Post mortem and audits of all
deaths of migrants should be carried out, with union/NGO participation 

To register all deaths of migrant
workers, and pass that information to origin state 

To ban night shifts for all

To monitor that employers provide
transport to location of work, and restrict work to eight works

To ensure that migrants are
entitled to minimum wages applicable in destination state,  weekly day off, bonus, ESI, death insurance,
maternity leave, maternity assistance and other benefits as per legislation.

All migrants should be entitled
to paid leave of fifteen days to visit their origin state.

To ensure that all government
programs applicable to locals are provided to migrant workers. Girl child
incentive scheme,  SGSY scheme,  Health insurance schemes, Muthulakshmi Reddy

To ensure that migrants are
allowed to vote from here when their origin state elections are held

To ensure equal wages for migrant
women and men, and upgrading of skills of migrant women  

To investigate impact of migrant
workers on employment of poor dalits and adviasis from Tamil Nadu

Long term 

Giving land for tertiary
education and hospital to trusts should not be considered as public purpose.
Primary and secondary is fine. 

Address uneven development across
states and ensure access to land for poor (in particular dalits and adivasis) in
origin states and proper implementation of government schemes including MNREGS,

Stop evictions in origin states which
is another reason for migration   

 Ensure migrants are called to Gram Sabha
meetings, and a percentage of local government expenditure is allocated to them
(if necessary central government should transfer this amount)

Stop evictions in destinations
states in both rural and urban areas which leads to conflicts between migrant
workers and local workers

Train staff in health, child care,
education and labour welfare board in migrant language, and atleast one staff
in labour welfare board should be specially allocated for migrants.

Cover migrant workers under
proposed Sexual harassment bill, and each employer has to constitute a committee  

Raise awareness amongst migrant
women, men, girls and boys on their rights, and ensure that there is a
community television and library in local language. 

Indian Government should not
classify TN/KERALA/GUJARAT/PUNJAB/HARYANA ETC as a developed state when migrant
population is increasing and their condition is dismal. THERE SHOULD BE

National government targets under
twelfth five year plan should include indicators on condition of migrant

Indian government should ratify all conventions regarding
migrant workers.   


--- On Wed, 1/6/11, Siddhartha Kumar <> wrote:

From: Siddhartha Kumar <>
Subject: [ZESTCaste] 'Animals here are better off than human beings in this cursed, holy region'
To: "zestcaste" <>
Date: Wednesday, 1 June, 2011, 4:19 PM

The Irish Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2011
'Animals here are
better off than human beings in this cursed, holy region'

RAHUL BEDI in Gaya, eastern India

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