Migrant labourers work under unsafe conditions

Those working in underground tunnels are seldom provided safety equipment

September 25, 2017 08:04 pm | Updated September 26, 2017 08:15 am IST - KARIMNAGAR:

Migrant labourers from various parts of the country employed for the Telangana State government’s prestigious Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project are living in poor conditions and working in unsafe conditions.

A series of mishaps were reported recently. During the tunnel work at Thippapur village in Illanthakunta mandal seven migrant labourers lost their lives when the roof caved in, at Mallapuram in Dharmaram mandal a migrant labourer succumbed to injuries following roof collapse and five migrant labourers sustained injuries when a vehicle met with an accident inside the tunnel in Shayampet village of Dharmaram mandal.

Due to the accidents, the executing agencies have stopped the work in all tunnels confining the labourers to their work site accommodation. Accidents were regular in the tunnels, but went unnoticed as the labourers mostly sustained fracture injuries and were sent back to their native States by the contractors. But, the anomalies in the execution of tunnel work came to light only after seven labourers were killed in Thippapur last Wednesday.

The series of incidents have terrified the migrant labourers and they are scared to enter the tunnel to take up further work. They are confined to their tin sheds at the work sites and have been instructed not to speak to the media. They are pouring out their woes only to the officials concerned.

Deputy Labour Commissioner A Gandhi, who visited the incident spot and work site of the migrant labourers told The Hindu that the agencies executing irrigation tunnel works have flouted several labour laws. There were also violations in providing adequate safety to the labourers in the tunnels, he said. There was no technical supervisor to execute the works and the labourers were forced to do the work on their own, thus causing accidents.

Only 60 per cent of the migrant labourers were enrolled under the Inter-State Migrant Labourers Act and Building and Construction Workers Act, he said and added that they had decided to convene a meeting with all contractors very soon to enrol all the migrant labourers as per the Acts to ensure that they get maximum benefits in case of accidents. He said that they would be serving notices on the contractors whenever mishaps take place to ensure proper safety of the migrant labourers.

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