Reiterating its warning that it will have to order of stoppage of works on the metro rail project if the authorities fail to ensure welfare of the labourers, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday set July 29 as the deadline for Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to submit details on number contractors, subcontractors, and number of labourers working at metro sites.
“None of you are interested in safeguarding the interest of labourers. Principal employer [BMRCL] is interested only in execution of work and not labourers’ interest… If you are not serious about welfare of labourers, we will stop the work,” a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice A.S. Bopanna observed orally.
It was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Samuel Sathyaseelan, a social worker, complaining about the abysmal condition of the workforce.
The Bench was unconvinced at BMRCL’s and the Ministry of Labour’s measures taken after its earlier directions to both — orally as well as written order.
During a hearing on July 3, the Bench had made it clear to the BMRCL, Union and State governments that it would order work stoppage if authorities failed to protect the workers’ human rights as per the law and had asked the BMRCL to hold meeting with its contractors and subcontractors on compliance of labour laws and submit a report to the court.
On Wednesday, BMRCL counsel submitted a statement informing the court that a meeting with the contractors was held on July 15 and spot inspection of labourers’ camps would be made next week for “physical verification” of the claims made by the contractor on complying with the labour laws. The Bench then asked what was the point of meetings if ultimately workers’ interests are not protected and reiterated its earlier warning. It then asked why the details of the contractors and number of labourers were not submitted to the court.
At this juncture, BMRCL counsel requested for a “last chance” to submit the report saying he had received the information from BMRCL only the day before. He said he would file the data by Monday.