<br>”The migrant labourers, camping near 2-3 construction sites in and around the city, agreed to endure the lockdown after state Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar on Sunday assured them of wages, ration and stay till normalcy is back,” the official told IANS.
Though the workers, mostly from Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, are desperate to go home, as their families were worried about them and their jobs, assurance of wages, job continuity, food and shelter during the lockdown by Hebbar calmed their nerves.
About 3,270 workers are camping at Devanahalli near the airport where its second terminal is under construction for capacity expansion.
“As the sudden lockdown since March 25 with no trains and buses forced the workers to stay back, they could not send money to their families, as the contractor is yet to pay them the wages of March fully,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Devanahalli is 40km north of Bengaluru on the national highway (NH 4) towards Hyderabad.
Hebbar directed state labour commissioner K.G. Shantaram to ensure the contractor not only paid them full wages for March and April, but also retained them till the project work was completed.
The minister also inspected the place where the workers are staying, their living condition and enquired if they were getting water and power supplies besides food.
“The minister directed the department officials to supply ration kits, masks and sanitisers to the workers and advised them to maintain hygiene and keep social distancing,” recalled the official who was present at the spot.
On an impromptu visit to a huge residential complex under construction in the city's northeast suburb, Hebbar interacted with about 600 workers from the northern states at their site camp.
“When the workers asked the minister to arrange a special train to go back home as they were stuck in the city without work and wages, Hebbar calmed them by explaining the grave situation and how it was necessary for them to stay put till the lockdown was lifted to avoid being infected by the virus,” said the official.
The minister also summoned the workers' contractor and directed him to supply masks, sanitisers and more space to maintain physical distance at the site.
“Hebbar also advised the contractor to ensure his workers get the ration kits so that they can cook at the site and avoid going out during the lockdown,” the official pointed out.
At another construction site in the city centre where the state-run power distributor (Karnataka Power Transmission Company Ltd) is building a residential-cum-office complex, Hebbar interacted with about 140 workers who are also stuck since the lockdown began and enquired about their welfare.
“The construction company – JMC India Ltd — is taking care of the stranded workers with the help of an NGO (non-government organisation) as they are also from northern states and have no place to shift.
The stranded workers told Hebbar to ensure trains resume on May 4 so that they could first go home and spend some days with their families before returning to work in the city,” noted the official.
The workers at all the three sites also sought assurance from the minster that their contractors would pay them wages and retain them to complete the job as they had to earn enough to live in the city and save as much to send home.
“Hebbar directed the labour commissioner to ensure the contractors paid wages to the workers and retained them for the project work as notified by the Centre,” added the official.
According to the state labour department, a whopping 80,000 people, including migrant workers, daily wagers, hawkers, street vendors and homeless are staying in about 1,200 relief camps across the city under the supervision of the city civic body, which also coordinates supplies of ration kits, food, water and medicines with NGOs and civic agencies.