While we are witnessing a lot of people leaving the city, CREDAI MCHI says that developers are witnessing an increase in migrant labourers at sites.
By Varun Singh
In a survey conducted by CREDAI MCHI among 85 MMR based developers, it was revealed that there has been a 2X influx of construction workers (migrant labourers) at various sites in comparison to the labourers that have left in the last 2 months, contrary to numerous reports on increasing reverse migration of labourers amid new covid restrictions.
The survey also revealed that while a small fraction (2100 of 36,000 workers at sites of 85 developers) left MMR in the last few weeks, majority of it is due to festival of Holi and marriage season – a trend similar to previous years. CREDAI MCHI, possessing a membership base of over 1800+ developers, has also urged the State Government to permit construction and logistical activities in MMR in the likelihood of a probable lockdown, unlike last year where the industry came to a complete standstill.
With such a large contingent of workers currently in MMR serving as an illustration of the larger picture with regards to alleviating fears of reverse migration, a decision to halt construction activities, akin to last year, will prove to be detrimental to not just workers and homebuyers due to delays but also developers who faced severe financial struggles last year as well.
Developers have been undertaking several safety measures at the sites to ensure the adherence of Government protocols. In an internal study, it was revealed that out of 20k+ workers surveyed at various MMR sites, only 19 covid cases were reported – reflecting the strong commitment of developers to provide a safe working environment for its workers and employees.
CREDAI MCHI President Deepak Goradia shares his remarks “In the wake of the second wave of Covid – 19, the Maharashtra Government has not just provided adequate support to Real Estate stakeholders but in the last 6 months, it has also ensured an extremely conducive business environment for us, enabling MMR Real Estate to spearhead the revival of the state’s economy after the first wave. Developers are keen to keep their construction workers safe and have taken all measure including RTPCR testing at sites in accordance to government guidelines in order to segregate Covid patients, if any. With workers belonging to the lowest pay grade and critical to our day-to-day activities, it is extremely important to safeguard their best interests. Hence, we urge the State Government to allow construction activities at sites given the likelihood of an impending lockdown and also ensure that supply chain of construction materials is kept intact. As developers, we are more than prepared to help the government in tackling this second wave by enhancing requisite measures to ensure safe working environment at sites.”
A Differennt Perspective
On the concerned issue of migrant labourers in Construction sector, and whether there is reverse migration, Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, National President, NAREDCO said, “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”.
Accordinng to Hiranandani, 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,” he concluded.