Other States

Ban on construction in Delhi proving costly for labourers

Labourers waiting at a chowk in Tilak Nagar  

As a prospective customer reached a labour chowk in Tilak Nagar in the western part of Delhi looking for a painter, a bunch of labourers ran towards him till he decided on one and left, leaving the others disappointed.

The Delhi Government had banned construction work and demolition activities due to pollution in the Capital and lifted it last week. However, the ban was reimposed following Supreme Court directions.

At several labour chowks in Delhi, labourers find small work here and there but two COVID-induced lockdowns and a pollution-induced ban on construction has left them broke and fending for themselves.

At the Tilak Nagar labour chowk, Mahender Pal Sharma, a native of Uttarakhand – wearing a pair of flip flops on a cold winter morning – who has a family of four, including children to feed, said he hasn’t found work for the last three days and is returning home empty-handed. He is angry at both the Governments — the Centre and the State — for ignoring the needs of the labour class.

Govt. questioned

The labourers questioned the government on why they only banned construction work and didn’t take measures on vehicular pollution. Raja (28) from Bihar said, “Pollution happens because of vehicles… why do they not ask people to stop driving? The middle and upper class are not affected by this, we are,” said Guddu, who is barely managing as he has not found work for the last 10 days. He has to pay a rent of ₹3,000 this month apart from other expenses.

Mohammed Salim, at Subhash Nagar labour Chowk, said since the second lockdown was lifted, they have been able to find work for about 10 days out of 30 on an average. Despite the ban, he and others said that they get work on some days – employed by people who are continuing with construction work despite the ban. “We reach here around 8 a.m. and stay till 5 p.m. every day in the hope of getting work,” he said.

Debts are increasing for most of them, they say, because of lack of work opportunities. Prabhu Dayal (47), a native of Rajasthan, who has a wife and three children to feed, said he had to take a friendly loan of ₹20,000 from a relative because he had to urgently get his wife operated for a nerve problem.

A few others standing with him also said that they had to take loan sometimes even for ration.

The labourers also said that most of them have not been able to avail the benefit of Delhi Government’s scheme of giving ₹5,000 to construction workers because they either don’t have bank accounts or are not aware of the process.


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 7:04:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ban-on-construction-in-delhi-proving-costly-for-labourers/article37780999.ece

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