BENGALURU: For the last one week, contractors carrying out civil works in 51 stations of Bengaluru Metro encountered a serious setback due to the shortage of oxygen across the City.
Metro construction sites utilize one or two oxygen cylinders per day for building-related reinforcement works depending on the kind of activity being done.
A senior Metro official told The New Indian Express that a crucial requirement in infrastructure works is the cutting and joining of structural steel for slabs and piers in Metro stations.
"Both Oxygen and acetylene are required at the sites. There is no shortage of acetylene but our contractors have reported a serious shortage of oxygen," he said.
They are brought in bulk by them in small trucks once a week.
"A couple of them having buffer stocks have managed this week using it but some do not have it and have stopped specific works that require oxygen. If the demand for oxygen continues to surge, then it will have a serious impact on construction," he added.
Express spoke to contractors or their representatives carrying out work, who requested anonymity. "We have stopped 80% of welding, gas cutting and fabrication works which require oxygen due to the sudden lack of supply we are experiencing. We use the same kind of oxygen cylinders (though in a smaller size) that is being sent for COVID patients. We are praying and hoping the situation on the oxygen front improves," said a top contractor. Other works were being given more thrust instead.
Another contractor said he had sent 40 of his gas cutters and welders on leave temporarily. "Steel comes in the shape of squares or circle segments or even L-angle. Cutting them and bridging them together is a very important activity in construction. This is a specialized job involving safety precautions and this team is not trained in any other activity," he said. Chief Public Relations Officer, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, B L Yashwant Chavan ruled out any problem faced by contractors carrying out works.
10% of migrant workers yet to return
The surging COVID-19 situation in Bengaluru has created much apprehension in a section of migrant workers who went to Bihar and Chattisgarh for Holi and to West Bengal to take part in the polls.
"They were supposed to return after their respective events. They have chosen to stay put temporarily due to the surge in cases in Bengaluru and lockdown fears and transport restrictions in their cities," said a contractor.
"Over 10% of workforce is still there and we are awaiting their return," he added. Another contractor said that his workers too had not returned but that often happened when they went for a holiday as they go annually and is hopeful they would come soon.