How States Are Improving Life Of Those Who Build Our Homes
Construction sites are common all around if you live in a city with developments in every city displaying a typical picture of several daily-wage labourers toiling hard under the sun to build for us. There were over 472.9 million skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled construction workers in India in 2011-12 according to a report India Labour Market Update 2016 by International Labour Organization. Of the total, more than 55 per cent of them were women.
These construction workers are mostly seasonal migrants who come to cities to earn better wages. Ironically, what they ultimately get is a trivial amount. Moreover, they are exposed to hazardous living conditions and continuous contact with construction material having an adverse impact on health like Asthma, TB, Ulcer and Musculo-skeletal disorder (caused due to carrying heavy loads).
Moreover, those who build homes of bricks and cement for the city-dwellers are themselves confined to shanty huts and tattered tents made of plastic and asbestos.
As per the schemes laid by Building and Construction Workers’ Welfare Board, every construction worker who is registered at the board is entitled to various benefits. This entails accident compensation, hospitalisation expenses, maternity care, pension scheme, educational support for children and many more. The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act was launched for levy and collection of one to two per cent cess on the cost of construction incurred by builders for funding the board.
But, registering with the board can be challenging as it requires document-proofs which they usually fail to provide. In fact, the formation of the board required several orders from the Supreme Court before many states constituted it. It is not uncommon to see many such workers themselves organising groups to demand rights. Awareness of this vulnerable situation of the migrant worker population has increased in recent years.
MakaanIQ brings you latest updates from some cities concerning construction workers.
Bhubaneswar: The state government recently announced the development of three rental housing projects for the workers which will include low-rent accommodations with a total of 400 beds. The projects will come up at Kharavel Nagar, Sampur and Chandrasekharpur. The chairman of Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board said that the government will also develop 18 rental housing projects at nine more urban centres in Odisha in a phased manner.
Kochi: With just few days left for the launch of the Metro network in the city, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited honoured more than 4,000 construction workers, who worked for the project, with ‘Sadya’ (meaning special feast in Malayalam). Earlier too, the state of Kerala has proved that its way ahead of other states in ensuring betterment of the workers’ population through the launch of various schemes.
Amritsar: Led by All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), several construction labourers and their family members organised a rally outside the office of Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha last month expressing that the lack of government focus towards the welfare of construction workers who were living in pitiable conditions. They also raised concerns about the impact of implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) will have on the funds welfare board of registered construction workers. They also sought direct association of construction workers with ESI hospitals for quality health facilities and other similar demands.
Delhi: Members of worker unions in the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board had a tiff with the government last year over a proposal to use funds of Rs 900 crore for projects on hospitals, anganwadis and schools. Although the government claimed that these projects would be used for the welfare of construction workers, the union members said that they won't have exclusive rights to the facilities that would be opened up for outsiders. The issue of lack of safety mechanisms for labourers was also taken up.