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Tea plantation workers undergo brunt of Idukki landslide; activist says inadequate housing compounded woes

The landslide in Idukki’s Pettimudi on 7 August, which has left at the least 43 of us dreary, has once again underlined how marginalised communities are worst-tormented by natural mess ups.

Many of of us who died or enjoy been tormented by the landslide are Dalit workers at the Kannan Devan Hill Plantation Tea Property.
G Gomati, a neighborhood activist, can attest to the destruction wrought on underprivileged communities on account of the landslide. Gomati, who is at the forefront of the struggle for the rights of plantation workers, had even contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Idukki, albeit unsuccessfully, as an Impartial candidate.

Recalling the aftermath of the landslide, Gomati said that the workers themselves, alongside with villagers from Idamalakkudi, Marayoor and Munnar, were the first responders to the tragedy. Rescue operations by the authorities got here into the characterize later.

Whereas the authorities has promised compensation to the next of kinfolk of of us who lost their lives, Gomati maintains that extra wishes to done. She said, “The authorities looks to enjoy assign a designate of Rs 5 lakh to the lives that were lost. Nonetheless what about the times to map encourage? The rains of August enjoy factual begun. Who’s aware of what else is in store for Munnar? Many of us enjoy filed complaints seeking to receive their homes repaired or constructed. What’s going to the authorities form if one thing happens to them?”

Pettimudi had suffered nature’s wrath in 2018 as neatly, when floods broken a avenue and a bridge within the house. On the opposite hand, the plantation workers within the dilemma enjoy miniature option but to elevate form with the housing facilities they receive.

Speaking about the residing prerequisites of the workers, Gomati said, “The plantation workers form now not cling any land, and they also’re residing in lodging that has been organized by plantation homeowners. All these residential buildings are outmoded.”

Five years earlier, the plantation workers had long past on strike for a bunch of demands, alongside side better housing. At that time, several media experiences also highlighted how workers were residing in puny one-room quarters. Gomati recalled, “Responding to the strike, the firm had promised to lengthen the residential facilities. Nonetheless that did now not happen.”

The plantation workers, of their agitation in 2015, had also recommend a bunch of various demands. These included better training for children, utilizing mechanised systems for plucking tea shoots, moreover rights associated to land for the workers. These demands were aimed at serving to the workers turn into independent from of the caste-linked bondage of plantation work.

In the unusual context, the COVID-19 outbreak has easiest compounded the woes of plantation workers. About this, Gomati said, “These who enjoy a kitchen and one bedroom are instructed to relief social distancing. Five to six of us sleep together in a single bed. Where is the distancing? The labourers needed to work all around the COVID-19 lockdown as neatly.”

A portion of this article has been translated from a Malayalam put up on the win space Keyboard Journal

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