Construction Workers leave for Home; Developers fear delay in Project Completion

Construction Workers leave for Home; Developers fear delay in Project Completion
Apr 2021 , by , in Realty Spotlight

Just when it looked like the housing sector was recovering from the impact of the pandemic in 2020, a second wave has again disrupted construction activity at real estate project sites with migrant workers going back to their villages as soon as the week-long lockdown was announced in Delhi as also when restrictions were imposed in Maharashtra.

Indeed, pictures of thousands of migrant workers at interstate bus terminals and railway stations could be seen replaying across Delhi and Mumbai.

To minimize the impact, the Delhi government proposed financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to each of the construction workers registered with them. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the migrants not to leave Delhi and assured them that the lockdown would not be extended.  Labour unions confirmed that as many as two lakh construction workers have already left Delhi-NCR for their hometowns in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

“Construction workers are part of the silent population that migrates whenever there is a crisis of employment. Of the total 10 lakh construction workers in Delhi-NCR, as many as five lakh are considering going back of which two lakh may have already migrated,” Siddheshwar Shukla, CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) Delhi state secretary stated.

Besides, much before the lockdown was imposed in the Capital, some construction workers had already left town for the harvest season. Some workers who had left for Holi festivities have not returned due to fear of cases rising in cities.

“There may be less panic as workers are better prepared to leave this time around but the level of migration is the same as last year. Of the 10 lakh construction workers in Delhi-NCR, two lakh had already left and another three lakh may be prepared to leave. However, the remaining five lakh may not leave as they may have a permanent house in Delhi-NCR,” Shukla said.

This would mean that construction sites would have to do with roughly half the regular labour until the situation improves, he added. Shukla has also written to Manish Sisodia, labour minister, government of Delhi, apprising him of the problem of reverse migration in the city. “Once again migration of unorganised sector workers has begun. This large section of population doesn’t have an Aadhar card with a Delhi address and therefore they are not eligible for any schemes announced by the government. The government must provide Rs 10,000 as Covid-19 relief to all unorganised sector workers,” the letter said.

Ramswarath, general secretary of the Bhawan Nirman Mazdoor Union, Noida region, also told that thousands of construction workers had left town. “How are they expected to survive in cities? Most of them are hired on daily wages from labour chowks near construction sites and are not entitled to incentives given by the government,” he said.

Pravesh, a construction worker and a union leader from Bawana in Delhi, also told that almost 25% of workers had left their jhuggis in north-west Delhi after the six-day lockdown was announced. “Their fear is that they may not die of corona but may surely die of hunger,” he told.

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