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Woes of construction workers in AP continues post – lockdown

by Supraja
423 views Hyderabad

The real estate sector is one of the worst affected sectors due to the lockdown. The problems of
the construction workers intensified with the state government announcing lockdown halting all
the construction activity. Since the majority of these workers are dependent on the construction
work, they were left jobless during the lockdown. In the Prakasam district alone 90,000 workers
suffered due to the lockdown.

Though the state government provided groceries to these workers, many complained that the
quantities are not sufficient. Keeping in mind the woes of the construction workers, Santosh
Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for Labour and Employment had written a letter urging all
the state governments and union territories to transfer adequate funds to registered
construction workers via direct benefit transfers (DBT).

One such mechanism is to release funds collected as cess under the Building and Other
Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. The amount to be transferred has been left to
individual state governments. A report by the Andhra Pradesh Building and Other Construction
Workers Welfare Board claims to have provided financial assistance of Rs. 1000 per worker to
more than 19.67 lakh building and construction workers in the state under the scheme. The
opposition demanded the government to provide Rs. 10,000 to the construction workers.

However, CITU leader Babu Rao alleges that the government failed to provide financial
assistance. The available evidence substantiates the allegations. The scheme mandates the linking
of the Aadhar card with the bank account to receive benefits. As of 28 th July, only 4,15,753
workers across 13 districts had their Aadhar linked with the bank account. There is a huge
difference between the number of eligible construction workers and the number of
beneficiaries reported by the government.
The construction workers continue to suffer post – lockdown due to an increase in the price of
raw materials such as sand, gravel, steel, and cement. The floods and incessant rainfall across the
state also halted the construction work for some time. With the decrease in construction activity,
only a very few people are getting work every day.
On 18 th September 2020, the construction workers protested against the government’s move to
divert Rs. 450 crores from the Andhra Pradesh Builders and other Construction Workers
Welfare Board (APBOCWWB) for implementing the YSR Bhima scheme. The workers criticized
the government for not diverting the funds instead of paying them an unemployment allowance
The past two years have been very tough for the people involved in the construction work
especially the workers. Sand scarcity coupled with an increase in the sand prices has halted the
construction work across the state, leaving thousands of the workers jobless. In October 2019,
three workers from Tenali, Guntur, and Mangalagiri committed suicide due to a lack of work.
However, several other suicide cases were left unreported.
While the construction workers are committing suicide, YSRCP leaders were busy hoarding sand
and selling it in the black market for higher margins pocketing crores of rupees illegally. In
December 2019, the government’s proposal to shift the capital from Amaravati has halted almost
all the construction activity in the region affecting the construction workers once again.
Construction workers are protesting across the state to fulfill their demands which includes:

  •  Payment of unemployment allowance of Rs.10,000/- to every construction worker for at
    least six months who were rendered jobless due to pandemic
  •  Deposit Rs 450 crore back to the APBOCWW
  •  Payment of workers’ pending claims with the board
  •  Issue identity cards to all the workers
  •  Extension of the welfare schemes to include construction workers

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