Vipul Pandya of the Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan said it was revealed that the government was not paying compensation, despite the fact that the welfare board has a huge Rs 1,900 crore at its disposal. The government collects at the rate of Rs 30 per square metre from the construction sector for the welfare of workers. So far the state government, ironically, has spent a paltry Rs 150 crore for workers’ welfare,” he said.
Pointing out that only 30% of the construction workers out of 12 lakh are registered, Pandya said, “Those who died at construction sites, but were unregistered, have not been paid any compensation.” According to the rule, each worker must renew registration every year, otherwise her or his registration will lapse. Experts said there are “major problems” in registering construction workers, majority of whom are tribal migrants from Gujarat as well as from places as far away as Bihar and West Bengal.
During the current seminar on safety and welfare of construction workers held in Ahmedabad, it was revealed that in Surat the government suddenly halted the process of registering 1,500 diamond workers after discovering 150 Rohingyas among them.
Giving more details, Pandya said, last year 80 persons died while working on construction sites. Majority of them, 28, were from Ahmedabad. “These construction workers are underpaid. Even those working in Ahmedabad metro work for 12 to 15 hours to earn a full day’s wage, which is a safety issue. Most of them die due to falling from a height.”
Pointing out that these migrants have “no space to live, no toilets, no water, no creche where women workers can put their children while going to work,” Pandya said, “About 40% of those who die are tribal migrants.”