Vacant houses create job boom in Kerala
By Hareesh Kumar A S / ENS - TIRUVALLA
11th August 2012 08:33 AM
The landscape of Kerala, especially Central Travancore, is dotted with plush houses, as a result of the foreign fund flow -- from the Gulf in the 70s-80s and from the US, Europe and other countries in the last couple of decades.
But ironically many of these have no occupants for most part of the year, except pests, weeds and occasionally antisocial elements. This has proved to be a blessing in disguise for many locals who get employed as housekeepers and watchmen. They earn hefty salaries too: up to `75,000 per annum.
Santhosh Kumar from Kumbanad, a ‘housekeeper’, says that it is a side business for him. “I get `75,000 for housekeeping and an additional `50,000 per annum for raising a cow,” he says. Some house owners appoint Gurkhas for security.
Some depend on security agencies and keep expensive dogs such as Doberman.But this has given rise to manpower shortage even in villages for jobs like coconut harvesting and farming.
A resident of Tiruvalla municipality says that coconut harvesting in his property was stalled for six months due to non-availability of coconut climbers.
Non-Residents Malayali Association (NORMA) general secretary S Pradeep Kumar says many NRIs with less income are facing a problem in taking care of their houses.
According to the 2011 census, 11 lakh houses are vacant in the state, about 10,000 in Central Travancore, almost 60 per cent of which belonging to NRIs from the US and Europe.
Many houses are lying closed without any security or care. A year ago, a vacant house was looted in Kozhenchery and neighbours came to know about it only after a week.
Janamaithri Police plans to provide security to the vacant houses with no housekeepers.
Thomas Mathew, an NRI from Eraviperoor near Tiruvalla, says that hiring a housekeeper is better than the annual cleaning. “Because when we come home on leave we spend over a week to clean and repair the house and the premises,” he says.
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