BENGALURU: In order to avoid a repeat of last year’s misery, when migrant workers were left with no option but to pack their bags and walk home to distant towns and villages, the Karnataka government has in its latest guidelines allowed construction activities to continue, and will be issuing valid identity cards to construction workers. Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar said builders will be given ID cards from their department to be issued to workers.
Last year, after the lockdown was imposed, many labourers left Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka on foot, and on trains. Most of these labourers were from North India, mainly from West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. A few months ago, some of them left as it was harvest season, especially those from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu who also wanted to cast their votes. They are yet to return.
Meanwhile, fearing another lockdown, many labourers were planning to return to their hometowns. Hebbar told TNIE that there are about 3.5 lakh construction workers in Karnataka, mainly migrant workers. There are no restrictions on construction activities, except on Saturdays and Sundays, till the restrictions are lifted.
The minister said that based on last year’s experience, they are ensuring these workers do not return to their villages. “We are calling a meeting with builders and officials will be directed to issue valid identity cards from the labour department, which builders will give to their workers. They have to carry these cards while travelling to their workplace,” he said.
The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Bengaluru chairman Suresh Hari said it’s a double whammy for the sector. As such, residential properties are not moving fast like earlier, and for the new projects, there is a shortage of workers as many did not return after the first wave.
“Now with only five workdays, ongoing projects will be delayed further as it will mean no work on eight to ten days,” he said.On payment, Suresh said the workers will be paid on the days they worked, which means they will not be paid for two days in the week. This may not work out for them and prompt them to return to their villages.