Beating the Heat | Construction labourers toil under scorching heat in Bengaluru

A worker said living in arid places like Raichur or Kalaburagi is different to working under the sun

April 11, 2024 01:46 pm | Updated 04:06 pm IST - Bengaluru

A construction worker in Bengaluru using an umbrella due to the heat.

A construction worker in Bengaluru using an umbrella due to the heat. | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Exhausted after working for hours with minimum breaks under the sweltering heat in Bengaluru and lack of potable water to drink, Shiv Kumari from Bihar is planning to move back to her village.

Ms. Kumari, who has two children, carries sand, cement, mud and other construction materials at building sites. She was pulled up constantly by the contractor as she was unable to meet their expectation due to the heat. Her children are also struggling under the heat, she said. She is now ready to let go of her earnings while her husband will continue working to feed the family.

“The managers are insensitive. They refuse to provide enough breaks. At the site, there is no potable water. The workers have to drink water supplied for construction. Due to water scarcity, on some days, we don’t have water at all. What should we do in this situation? I have decided to go back to my village in Bhagalpur district,” she said.

A 35-year-old who works for Namma Metro shared a similar story. “We bring water from our tin-shed homes. The metro work is tedious, as we have to climb up and down under the hot sun. The metal is so hot that if we touch it with bare hands, it will burn. Even in this situation, we are not given a break in the afternoon.”

The worker said living in arid places like Raichur or Kalaburagi is different to working under the sun. “Many say that I should not find the Bengaluru heat hard to bear as I have come from Raichur. What they do not know is that working threshold is different from living in hot places.”

P.P. Appanna, president, Karnataka State Building Workers’ Association, said these labourers come under the unorganised sector and no government agency will come to their rescue. “There are incidents of workers fainting due to heat. This is the fate of construction workers not just in Bengaluru, but also in other parts of Karnataka,” he said.

Mr. Appanna said, about a year back, the High Court of Karnataka directed the Labour Department to inspect construction sites to cater to the needs of labourers. “Officials complied for about two months, but after that, everyone conveniently forgot about it.”

Mahantesh S., an activist, said during the election season, the government will not bother to resolve the problem of workers.

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