Labourers’ requests for proper sanitation and drinking water remain unheard. A PWD official denies mistreatment.
Four days since the chief minister of Karnataka, Basvaraj Bommai, inaugurated the construction site for Public Works Department (PWD) staff quarters at Vasanth Nagar, the labourers continue to use public bathrooms, defecate openly at times, and arrange drinking water for themselves.
Mukesh (name changed), said that they have requested the people in charge a number of times but it has been of no use. “We have to use public bathrooms, and the weather these days is another problem. They said that they have provided us with the quarters, but you can go see those are locked from outside,” he said.
“We have started making bathroom and drinking water provisions for the labourers on site. It shall take about two-three days to be completed,” said contractor, Basvaraj, NSL Builders.
An official from the PWD department said that presently there are no permanent workers on the site. “The ones that you see are the moving labourers. They come in the morning and go by the evening,” she said. She added that the tin sheds that are made on the site by workers are just for preparing food and taking rest.
The construction of the PWD department staff quarters has been undertaken by NSL builders.
Basvaraj said that the project is expected to be completed within 24 months. “We are just doing the preliminary work by barricading and securing the site,” he said. He added that the workers had just arrived a couple of days ago.
Mukesh, along with six to seven other workers, arrived on the site on May 07, 2022 and have been living on the site inside the tin sheds that they themselves constructed upon arriving.
Clifton D’ Rozario, Central committee member, CPI (ML) Liberation, said that migrant workers are usually treated in an inhuman way. “The contractors and the authorities in charge are bound to provide them all with the basic necessities. They are supposed to adhere to the statute as written in the labour laws,” he said.
“We will have to assess the risk factor in terms of workers losing their jobs. Usually, after raising complaints like these, the workers are fired from the job,” Clifton added.
The Rs. 117 crore project was inaugurated by chief minister Basvaraj Bommai on May 09, 2022. The project includes building staff quarters for PWD officials. This is the second PWD staff quarters project in Vasanth Nagar.