Wayanad (Ker), Feb 13 (PTI) Thirty years into his back breaking work of toddy tapping and a teetotaller to boot, T S Muraleedharan is a happy man with the state government honouring him with an award, instituted to foster better labour culture.
'This is a welcome step from the government.
I consider this as a recognition from the authorities for my honesty and sincerity towards my job,' he said.
Muraleedharan was among the 15 workers from the unorganised sector who were given the 'Thozhilali Sreshta' award, which also seeks to boost relations between the labourer and the employer.
The 58-year-old from Mananthavady, however, says that he represents a crisis hit sector and feels it will not survive for long.
Toddy tappers are generally traditional workers and many have been rendered jobless in 'God's own country' due to a combination of factors, including diseases affecting coconut trees, restrictions on setting up toddy shops and tipplers now preferring Indian Made Foreign Liquor.
'I don't think this sector will survive for a long period because people are not showing much interest in drinking toddy due to easy availability of IMFL' said Muraleedharan, a father of two.
Moreover, the younger generation is unwilling to take up this job as there are inherent risks, he said.
A typical two shift day for Muraleedharan sees him climbing 10 trees and collecting around 15 litres of toddy.
He sells it to a local toddy shop for Rs 29.75 per litre.
Besides, he also gets a DA of Rs 210 per day.
The second shift of four hours is from 2.30 pm sees him preparing the groundwork on the inflorescence of the coconut trees for extracting toddy for the next day.
Muraleedharan says he was able to build his life from the earnings from the traditional job.
'Though I am in this profession, I have never got into the habit of drinking any form of liquor.
The government may have also considered my conduct for selecting me for the award,' said Muraleedharan, a member of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan distributed the honour that carries a cash prize of Rs one lakh and a citation at a function at Thiruvananthapuram on February 5.
K Sasi, a coconut plucker from Mambuzhakkari in Kuttanadu, who has been in the job for the last 40 years, is also one of the recipient of the The 60-year-old who climbs around 30 trees daily and earns Rs 1,500, said he was grateful to the government, particularly the labour department, for selecting him for the award. PTI TGB APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR