Over the years, this shortfall has been more than made by labour from West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, UP and Odisha.
A survey by the Kerala government owned Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) shows that West Bengal accounts for 20 per cent of the migrant labour in Kerala, Bihar accounts for 18 and Assam for 17 per cent of the migrant labour in the southern state.
UP accounts for nearly 15 and Odisha for nearly 7 per cent of the migrant labour in the state. Assam, historically a labour receiving economy, has thus become a state exporting labour.
The reason for labour rushing to Kerala from eastern and northern states is because of the high daily wage rates there following a huge exodus to the Middle East since the 1970s.
Agricultural labourers in Kerala receive Rs 648 daily on an average – non-agricultural labourers receive Rs 615 a day.
The average daily wage in West Bengal is Rs 245, in Assam Rs 230, in Bihar Rs 210, in UP Rs 216 and Rs 207 in Odisha, according to statistics provided by the Labour Bureau of the Indian government.
Benoy Peter, executive director of the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, told Northeast Now that most of the labour from Assam could be found in Kerala’s plywood industry, specially concentrated mostly in the Perumbavoor area.
Around the time the Supreme Court banned forest-based plywood industry in Assam and the workers from the state moved to Kerala, Peter said. “Even today, the experts in our plywood industry here are all from Assam,” he said.
“There is no ill-feeling against the migrants because they help run our economy and spend almost one-third of their earnings in the state which would mean close to ?10,000 crores a year,” Peter said.
The number of migrants from other states in Kerala has jumped to 34 lakhs in 2018 from 25 lakhs in 2014. But the number of Keralites abroad has dropped to 21.2 lakhs in 2018 from 24.6 lakhs in 2014.