The Lock Down announcement, in view of the current situation of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 plaguing the economy, should have also provided for the living and travel guidelines for the migrant labour at construction sites. Although the Finance Minister has announced a Construction Workers' Fund , in India, most of the migrant labourers are provided bare living facilities on the construction sites. With the sites being closed under the Lock Down, the construction workers had no option but to fend for themselves. In the absence of any advisory and fearing that they would run out of their accumulated bare minimum savings, since most send all income back to their villages, they decided to walk home. Thousands have chosen to walk from Delhi to villages in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and even Nepal from where they hailed. They would rather rely on the savings back home, their means of subsistence in a bit of land that they own and the family.
Video courtesy: TOI Bareilly
Telangana Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD) KT Rama Rao had convened a meeting with the Construction & Builders' Association representatives and stated that all the construction and infrastructure companies should take care of the migrant labourers who are working at their sites. Some of the companies have provided such facilities. This directive comes in a bit late as hordes of migrant workers are already on their way home in many states.
A redeeming feature is that several villages have barricaded themselves in and have made it mandatory for the returning city dwellers to accept a 14-day quarantine outside the outskirts of the village in a makeshift residential facility to prevent infection in the villages. This has happened in Maharashtra and in Andhra Pradesh.
About the Author:
Pratap Padode is Founder, ASAPP Info Global Group, and Editor-in-Chief, CONSTRUCTION WORLD. He is also Founder & Executive Director at FIRST Construction Council and Smart Cities Council India.