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Demand to rope in govt. agency for service

Organisations and social workers working for the welfare of migrant workers have demanded the enlisting of a government agency for transporting bodies of migrants back to their homes from the State using the funds being allotted by the Labour department.

The demand coincides with the criticism being levelled by them against private funeral undertakers being engaged by the department at present. Dhanwandari Service Society has been cited as a potential agency to be entrusted with the service.

“It is ideal to rope in a government agency for the purpose. We are thinking about such a proposal the possibility of which will be explored with the district collector, NGOs and the Dhanwandari authorities,” said P.M. Firoz, District Labour Officer, Ernakulam. The Dhanwandari Service Society has the district collector and the superintendent of the Ernakulam General Hospital as its office-bearers.

The Labour department has cited the lack of facilities of the society to embalm the bodies as a handicap. This, however, has been refuted by the Dhanwandari Service Society Samrakshana Samithy.

“The superintendent of the General Hospital is the secretary of the society and the hospital has the facility to embalm the bodies. Entrusting the society with the project will help it earn additional revenue despite charging much lesser than private players. The society can add to it two ambulances and staff once it is entrusted with the project,” said C.S. Murali, an activist of the Samithy.

George Mathew, chairperson of Progressive Workers Organisation, said that since the Kochi airport has regular services to other State, bodies of migrants from across the State should be brought to the Ernakulam General Hospital and the Government Medical College, Kalamasserry, for embalming. The latter does it free of cost.

“The Kochi airport should be made the centre for sending back bodies of migrants and a committee of officials drawn from various agencies should be constituted to overlook the process,” he said.

Benoy Peter, executive director of Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, said that it wasn’t practical to bring bodies from all corners of the State to Kochi since there are three other airports as well in the State.

“For instance, bringing a body all the way from Kasaragod to Kochi makes little sense as within that time it could be sent back home. Besides, Dhanwandari Service Society has a presence in all districts, and it could undertake the service at the district level,” he said.

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