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The Coronavirus pandemic has affected many sections of the society. Construction workers are one such segment, whose daily lives have been impacted. An estimate shows that there are 8.5 million workers in the construction industry. Considering that these people may find it difficult to meet their own needs and the needs of their families, the centre had directed states to use the Rs 31,000-crore welfare fund for construction workers, to help them.
Meanwhile, real estate developers have also come forward with help and support, at this crucial time. With coronavirus 2.0 looming large, the Maharashtra state government has taken steps to provide relief to one of the most vulnerable sections – the construction labour force.
COVID 2.0: Steps taken by the Maharashtra government
Given the rising numbers of coronavirus, Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik said that the state government will provide five kg of ration to the state’s seven crore people and will also transfer Rs 1,500 in the bank accounts of 25 lakh construction workers and registered rickshaw pullers starting April 14, 2021. This follows Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement of 15 days of strict COVID-19 restrictions starting April 14. Altogether, a package of Rs a package of around Rs 5,500 crore has been announced by the CM.
Shiv Bhojan Thali, which was previously given at Rs 10, will be given free for the period and the beneficiaries of the ‘Niradhar’ scheme will also be paid in advance as well.
Amid resurgence of Covid second wave, reverse migration is a trend which is gradually making its presence felt with traumatic past history. The situation differs across states and industries, due to an undercurrent of worry. As of now, it is more an issue for those working in sectors like power, hotels and restaurants etc who are taking the reverse migration route.
As far as the real estate and construction sector is concerned, they are well prepared to tackle the situation of looking after in situ-migrants labourers at their respective site. Complying with the state governments SOPs, developers are also being responsible to facilitate food, shelter, and healthcare safety gears for the migrant labourers and their families. They are also being paid wages regularly which acts as a safety net that keeps the reverse migration in construction and real estate industry at bay.
Additionally, vaccination drive is expedited and regular Covid testing will be followed to mitigate the risk.
Simultaneously, Industry body NAREDCO has also recommended to permit vaccination for labourers above age 21 to ensure their safety as most of the labourers fall in this age category. In situations like mini lockdowns, where business continuity is coping with alternatives and following best healthcare practices. Thus, we see no cause of worry and keep the production ongoing with the best possible environment.
The last year showed us how we all are interdependent, and developers are looking at the fiscal cost of ensuring safety of human resources at construction sites as simply our responsibility said Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, National President, NAREDCO
COVID-19: Steps taken by developers to help workers
There is a pressing need to protect this vulnerable section of society from the COVID-19 virus and also to keep them fit to resume pending work, when the situation improves. Several reputed developers have been helping their workforce, with essential supplies and hygiene kits. Roop Bansal, a trustee at the M3M Foundation, says that they are providing rice, pulses, vegetables, clean drinking water and milk for toddlers and children. Apart from this, they will also provide soaps for personal use and for washing clothes. Fumigation and sanitisation of the camps are also being undertaken. “Most of the labourers and daily wage earners are not in a position to purchase food items for more than five days at a go. The motive of this effort, is to help them through the lockdown period, by providing the necessary food items,” explains Bansal, adding that an estimated 5,000 workers will benefit.
At Rustomjee, labourers are being assisted with food. They are housed at the Rustomjee labour camp at Virar in Mumbai, where soap and hygiene kits are being distributed, to ensure that everyone has access to basic necessities. The company has also decided to pay the electricity and water charges for the labour camp, so that the labourers can stay safe and calm during the lockdown period.
There are many other developers who have also taken various steps to benefit their workers.
|Developer/Company||Assistance provided to workers|
|FeedMyBangalore movement by Prestige Group, JLL India and Big Basket|
|MAN Industries (India) Limited|
|Ashwin Sheth Group|
Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on real estate
India’s real estate sector, which supports almost 250 allied industries and had just been recovering from a prolonged slump, has again been dragged into a slowdown by the Coronavirus pandemic. This time, the repercussions could be hard-hitting for the economy. If construction workers start migrating to their villages for an unspecified amount of time, it will be very difficult to meet project delivery timelines. This could leave many home buyers in the lurch.
We are thankful to companies/developer firms who have undertaken to help the construction workers. If your real estate company has done their bit to assist the labourers, do write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the PM-CARES fund?
The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was set up on March 28, 2020. The funds collected through it, will be used to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
What is the building and other construction workers fund?
The Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Welfare Boards of each state, constituted under the BOCW Act, collect a cess of 1% on the cost of construction, which is used by the Board to provide safety, health and welfare measures for such workers.