Where is hous­ing for con­struc­tion work­ers?

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Anuj Puri ht­es­tates@hin­dus­tan­times.com The au­thor is Chair­man – ANAROCK Prop­erty Con­sul­tants

The con­struc­tion sec­tor is one of the largest em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tors in In­dia, and the coun­try will need ap­prox­i­mately 76.5 mil­lion work­ers in the build­ing, con­struc­tion and real es­tate sec­tor by 2022.

De­spite it be­ing a job cre­ation en­gine for peo­ple from the eco­nom­i­cally weaker sec­tion of so­ci­ety, the ba­sic work­ing con­di­tions of con­struc­tion work­ers have been long ig­nored.

Mi­grant work­ers are the most vul­ner­a­ble - they are more of­ten than not forced to work un­der in­hu­man con­di­tions, and are si­mul­ta­ne­ously bereft of any real bar­gain­ing power.

Un­der the labour laws, mi­grant con­struc­tion work­ers are en­ti­tled to hous­ing and other so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits apart from min­i­mum wages, over­time pay­ments and weekly offs.

How­ever, on the ground, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this clause of the labour law has been abysmal. In far too many cases to­day, it can be said that the bot­tom line lit­er­ally con­sumes the bot­tom of the pyra­mid.

With­out a doubt, a more hu­mane ap­proach needs to be taken to­wards mi­grant con- struc­tion work­ers. It has pre­vi­ously been sug­gested that the amount col­lected through con­struc­tion cess can and should be used for pro­vid­ing rental ac­com­mo­da­tion to mi­grant work­ers.

At present, around Rs. 20,000 crore col­lected through con­struc­tion cess is ly­ing un­used.

It also should be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the de­vel­op­ers to en­sure that the work­ing con­di­tions for their con­struc­tion work­ers meet some ba­sic stan­dards.

Pro­vid­ing de­cent makeshift ac­com­mo­da­tion, crèches for their chil­dren and­proper san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties should be the part of their cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­gramme.

As a mat­ter of fact, quite a few de­vel­op­ers do take this se­ri­ously and pro­vide such fa­cil­i­ties - but they are far out­num­bered by those who don’t. The Gov­ern­ment and en­force­ment bod­ies should en­sure that the tenets of the labour laws drafted to pro­tect mi­grant work­ers are strictly and con­sci­en­tiously en­forced.

These work­ers are an im­por­tant part of the en­tire eco-sys­tem of the real es­tate in­dus­try - and, there­fore, the econ­omy as a whole.

MINT/FILE

Un­der the labour laws, mi­grant con­struc­tion work­ers are en­ti­tled to hous­ing and other so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits

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