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Namma Metro - Whose responsibility to look after the workers who build it?

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Public Health

If CM is to be believed, Namma Metro will start chugging on Phase-1 route very soon. Der Aye Durust aye (Better late than never). WE all are witness to the making of Metro in B'lore. We all saw how the construction progressed. Even we made noises when trees were cut to make the way for Metro line. I believe this is price we might have to pay for growth and newer development needs.

But in the discussion of Metro we somehow forgot about somebody very important. The very people who build this with their own hands, sweating and toiling for hours. Our indulgence with other aspects of Metro system totally blinded us at looking at the plight of these ordinary souls.

'The Hindu' carried a news item highlighting their plight, titled " When you get on to the metro, spare a thought for them"

These are the some excerpts from that report:

  • Rows of dusty shelters cobbled together with corrugated metal sheets house hundreds of labourers working on the Namma Metro project.
  • Some shacks, which turn to ovens by mid-morning, have as many as 20 men sleeping within them.
  • “About 300 people live here,” says a young worker at a small settlement near the Byappanahalli metro station which is currently under construction, “but there are no toilets.”
  • When a worker falls ill, he/she has to fork out his own money for doctor's visits.
  • Yes, the workers are provided with accommodation, drinking water and electricity, but again, toilets don't feature among the available amenities.
  • But the employers have been supportive when it comes to emergencies, one man says. “When my mother died, they granted me leave as well as paid for my train ticket back to my village in West Bengal.”
  • Some workers, glancing nervously at the guards, refused to speak to this reporter about their living conditions, or even acknowledge that they were employed by Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.
  • Contractor' obligation -BMRCL chief public relations officer Yeshavanth Chavan said that as per law, it was the responsibility of the contractor in-charge of workers to ensure acceptable living conditions for them. The matter would be looked into, he said.

In a nutshell, people who toils for our "World Class" infrastructure deserves better working and living conditions. The question is What, why and who is responsible for welfare of the laborers who work on public utility projects. We already see the blame game from BMRCL. Public entity is pointing at Private player (Contractor). But looks like at the end of the day nobody seems to be responsible.

Is it a classic case of Public-Private collusion to usurp laborer's basic rights? Is this the consequence of increasing the bottom lines? Is this the consequence of 10%, 15% share our public servants and representatives get?

What is that makes it hard for employers to ensure better living and working conditions for their workers or laborers? Where is the labor welfare department? Where is the Contractor's labor welfare officer? Do we have the statutory laws governing living conditions of such workers? If yes who should enforce it? What penalty or punishment is in store for violators?

Namma Metro case is just an example of many such projects and many such stories.Will this end one day?

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

They certainly deserve better amenities!

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117 users have liked.

We rarely think of the ordinary souls who build our homes, offices, monuments and public infrastructure.

Time has come to at least acknowledge their hard work. The least we at Praja can do is find if there exists any laws governing in provision of amenities to construction workers? If not may be recommend for laws to ensure amenities to these workers.

Any body knows what would be good GOK/GOI department to start with?

abidpqa's picture

The workers are transported

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The workers are transported in dump trucks. This way the metro could be saving on the cost to provide changing rooms etc. But I dont mean they are unhappy traveling like that.

The construction industry have been housing the workers in tin sheds for many years, not just the metro.

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