Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has threatened to withdraw from the project for rebuilding the Champakkara bridge and the metro viaduct over it, citing “forcible stoppage” of work by labour unions for the second time.
“Trade union activists prevented 20 of our workers from doing pile capping around 12.30 p.m. on Thursday. We cannot permit this since local, unskilled workers cannot be deployed for skilled work which is necessary to complete the project. We will be forced to confine our work up to Thykoodam and halt work on the bridge if work continues to be disrupted,” said DMRC officials.
They added that they had asked the contractor, Mary Matha Constructions, to approach the police for a settlement. “Continued stalemate will force us to abandon work on the bridge as undue interference by workers’ unions will affect work on the metro corridor. We fixed March 2019 as the target to commission the four-lane bridge and will not brook interference by trade unions,” the officials said.
Piling work over on one side
Piling was completed on one side of the old bridge by involving local workers who are members of two prominent trade unions. “The practice cannot continue for pile capping and superstructure work as it will have a fallout on the safety of the bridge, not to mention the financial aspects. The contractor has deployed a few dozen skilled workers, mostly from other States, for the work,” they said
“Moreover, the claim by trade unions that they have an agreement with Builders’ Association of India (BAI) on employing their workers does not hold good for bridges and the metro project. They are complicated civil structures, and they need skilled labour and supervision,” they added.
The earlier suspension of work had resulted in the project being halted for four days. Similar interventions by trade unions had held up work at metro sites and casting yards.
However, Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Union Vyttila area secretary Mani N.A. said none of its workers had disrupted work on Thursday. “We do not intend to tarnish the State government’s image,” he added. Meanwhile, a Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) spokesperson said the metro agency could not intervene till the issue was referred to it.