Madikeri: In times when coffee estate owners are facing problems finding labour force to execute jobs during peak season, large numbers of labourers are migrating from Assam to take up jobs through middlemen.
This migration is depriving local labourers of their jobs and many locals fear, unknown people settling in Kodagu may lead to many problems including friction among the labour community in the near future.
However, growers are not worried by their influx as they are able to get jobs done with minimum wages during peak coffee picking season when compared to the available labour force. Normally, localities charge anywhere between Rs 200 – 300 a day where as those from Assam are able to carry out same jobs at Rs 100-200. As a result outside laborers get jobs throughout the week whereas localities are employed on alternate days by private growers. Some of the outside labourers and their families are given free accommodation within the estate.
The middlemen enthused by the commission are getting innumerable people in trucks to the district. Since most work is on contract basis, growers are not worried about the consequences. Some reports suggest that around 30,000 people of Assam origin are employed in the estates of Kodagu.
People sensing law and order problem are requesting the police authorities to keep a tab on those entering and staying in the district. Accordingly, Superintendent of Police Rajendra Prasad has instructed the coffee estate owners to collect personal information and provide the same to the department. Since most are employed on contract basis, growers pay little heed to SP’s words. According to the figures available with the police department more than 8000 people are employed in estates.
Whether Kodagu will benefit from cheap labour force or will the uncontrolled influx of cheap labour lead to civil unrest in the future, only time will tell.
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