Housing the migrant worker

Housing the migrant worker

The plan to give free food grains and rental housing support to support migrant labours declared by the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, on Thursday — whenever actualized — can prod significant change with regards to enhancing urban incongruities in India.

The opening up of work restrictions for ladies, the “one country, one ration card” scheme, universal minimum wage, concessional rental lodging and the transformation of government-subsidized lodging into affordable rental housing complexes are steps the correct way. In any case, to guarantee that these plans arrive at their proposed recipients, we need a basic examination of the current housing conditions of labour migrants.

The noticeable point here  is that the housing for labour migrants has been tended to through its externalization into the towns on whose rural land these manufacturing towns came up. Laborers’ housing was considered as an unbeneficial foundation and in this manner either externalized or never manufactured. To fill in this basic lodging arrangement, the towns around these manufacturing places have created lodging apartments for labour migrants through the plotting of the staying agrarian cadasters. The apartments in these towns that are spread over a huge geological area traversing over a 100 km bear a striking likeness.

These apartments are multi-story solid structures normally comprised of rooms estimating between 100–120 square feet in zone, shared by a family or a gathering of single vagrants as a multipurpose living space. These rooms are sorted out along long course hallways that likewise fill in as ventilation shafts with shared toilets and water taps normally situated toward the finish of these passages.

Altogether, over a large portion of a million miggrants are housed in such apartments in settlements, for example, Kapashera and Dundahera close Udyog Vihar, in settlements around IMT Manesar, and an equivalent number in the settlements around RIICO Bhiwadi. There has been a blackboxing of these settlements as urban towns, and their change remains formally imperceptible through double land, and populace registers. The transients occupying the apartments frequently get no proof of residence, thus no ration cards, and are included in their towns of starting point instead of during the ones they possess.

Take for example Naharpur Kasan, a settlement adjoining IMT Manesar. The settlement is considered a rural village under the current census classification with a population of just under 10,000. However, the Public Health Centre in Manesar estimated last year that over 85,000 people had to be vaccinated. Yet, Naharpur Kasan is served by a mere eight ASHA healthcare workers, and has little in terms of infrastructure apart from some structures and water ATMs developed through corporate philanthropy.[1]

This ingenious space maximisation and black boxing, while at the same time permitting the apartment owners to amass huge rental salaries, has kept the transients in a circumstance of lasting fleeting quality. The migrants pay exorbitant amounts to access housing and basic services, which ideally should be a public right. Often paying anywhere between a third to half of their monthly income as rent, but without rental agreements or the possibility to exert tenancy rights on their living spaces. Besides, the consistence and incidental quality of the labourers in these settlements is upheld through pressure and physical brutality with respect to the landowners.

During the COVID lockdown, it was this black boxing that offered ascend to different types of clear and implicit brutality against the migrants. When communicated with various groups of migrants, mixed responses came. Some talked about a few of apartment owners communicating solidarity, preparing and disseminating dinners for individuals, while others revealed the utilization of physical violence for rent assortment.

This black boxing of labourers’ lodging — restricted not exclusively to Delhi NCR, yet basic to metropolitan extension all over India — has been to some extent answerable for the tragic scenes of the mass migration we have been seeing. The development story of Indian metropolitan economies is based on the casualisation of work as well as of the housing question of migrants.

The development of new, affordable housing buildings to supplant these settlements will be a mammoth assignment. It will, in any case, be significantly more beneficial to recognize the rental-housing gap these settlement changes have crossed over, and unite them as common laborers neighborhoods. This should be possible through presenting social-physical infrastructures in these settlements. Such measures can improve their liveability and make pathways for the labourers to get to and own them.

[1] https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/coronavirus-migrant-workers-housing-scheme-6412035/

Article Witten by- Lavanya Ambalkar

Law Student- (Symbiosis Law School, Pune)

(HRDI Work from Home Internship)