Railway projects hit as migrant workers refuse to return to Karnataka due to COVID-19 surge
Chief Administrative Officer, Constructions, South Western Railway, K C Swami, told The New Indian Express that the sudden COVID-19 surge in the state has impacted construction projects enormously
BENGALURU: Migrant workers are in no hurry to return to Karnataka due to the marked surge in COVID-19 cases, with Bengaluru topping the state in terms of active cases and deaths. As a result, a slew of railway projects that desperately depend on workers from northern, eastern and northeastern parts of the country are progressing at a snail’s pace.
Chief Administrative Officer, Constructions, South Western Railway (SWR), K C Swami, told The New Indian Express that the sudden surge in the epidemic in the city and state has impacted construction projects enormously.
“Construction projects, particularly doubling works, suffered a big impact after the national lockdown down was announced by March end. April was fully affected due to a stoppage of all construction activity. Later, many workers desired to head to their hometowns and the availability of special trains to different states facilitated it. With the COVID restrictions relaxed and activities getting back to normalcy in many sectors in the last one month, we expected the workforce to get back. But the huge surge in COVID-19 cases in the state has made them reluctant to do so,” Swami said.
Contractors entrusted with various projects have repeatedly taken efforts to bring back workers but they are unwilling to come at this juncture, he added.
“Our workforce has now shrunk to an average of 1,500 from the 5000-odd figure that existed earlier. A few workers leave and a few come but the one-third average continues to hold good, he said. For some specialized tasks like track laying, only skilled personnel who work in teams can do the job. They work in a synchronized fashion,” the CAO explained.
The projects that have been impacted are Baiyappanahalli Coaching Terminal, Hubballi Yard as well as the doubling projects of Yelahanka-Makalidurga, Devarapalli-Hindupur-Penukonda, Hubballi-Chikkajajur, Hubballi-Nandayal, Tolahunse-Davangere and Gadag-Hole Alur.