Deadly in what sense as Nipah Virus hits Kerala

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Deadly Nipah virus could not take their lives but indeed shattered their livelihood. There are close to 8 lakh semi or unskilled workers from West Bengal who had migrated to Kerala for a better pay to maintain brighter life for their family back in Bengal.

Over 8 lakh daily wage earners from West Bengal are being added to Kerala’s semi or unskilled migrant workforce of 40 lakh heads. Immediately with the onset of outbreak in Kerala, these people, highly panic stricken have started rushing back to their hometown, leaving their solid earning at their respective workplaces in Kerala. “The memory of this fatal fever in Bengal in 2001 is still a nightmare,” said Mainul Alam, a carpenter from Bengal’s Malda district.

West Bengal witnessed first Nipah virus outbreak in India. ‘Siliguri’ at Himalayan foothills was the victim that lost 45 lives in just 10 days. Existing as an unknown mistry fever for long, it was finally identified in 2006 as Nipah Virus attack.

Immediately after the onset of outbreak in Kerala, “Most of us left in haste leaving our job and without proper paperworks. Naturally, scope of getting those jobs back now through the agents is not clear. Here at home too, we don’t have any work,” said Gopal Mahato, a semi skilled plumber from Falakata in Jalpaiguri district.

Higher earning in Kerala has always been an attraction for semi or unskilled Bengal workers from districts like Malda, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri etc. Against Rs 300 a day here at Bengal, a carpenter receives at least Rs 800 in Kerala, one of the highest paying places for this class of workmen in the whole SAARC region.

“With better income, they adopted much higher standard of living which is difficult to maintain now. Neither can they downscale the standard immediately. Hence, desperation for better earning locally may push a section of these people towards off law side initiative, leading to socio economic turmoil as well as law and order problem,” apprehended social activist Ajoy Moitra.



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