Projects in Delhi still struggling to get all their construction workers back

NEW DELHI: Over a week after construction activity got the go-ahead, PWD officials said that while the number of workers had started to increase, they were still short of hands to complete projects in time. Private construction firms were also struggling to get all their labourers back to the capital.

Shyam Prasad, a construction worker, said that he came back only after his employer insisted and promised him a higher salary. “We were a total of 30 people who used to work at a site but towards the commencement of work again, there were just five of them. This is when he realised that there is a dearth of labourers here in Delhi and that he has no option but to lure back those who had gone back to their villages,” said Prasad. A contractor Sajid said, “We are running short of capacity, but then we have to really request people to work extra hours.”

A PWD official said that after the first wave too, it took them some time to get all the construction workers back. “Some fresh workers were later hired by the contractors and work was going on in full swing. Projects were on the verge of completion as well but with the second wave being so damaging, it is taking all the more time for things to come back to normal. Normalcy may return in the coming weeks but as of now, we are certain that the deadlines will not be met this time,” said the official.

“When the first lockdown was lifted, there was a major crunch of labourers as most of them had gone to their respective villages during the migrant exodus. Even though most of them said that they wouldn’t be returning to work, they did and we were soon operating on full capacity. However, we did not expect a similar problem to arise through the second wave as well,” he further said.

Delhi government’s PWD is helming key projects such as the construction of 1.2-km-long tunnel between Purana Qila Road near Mathura Road and the Ring Road, which is part of ITPO Pragati Maidan Redevelopment Project; Barapullah phase-3 elevated corridor; Ashram underpass; and Benito-Juarez Road underpass, which is also called RTR Phase 2 project.

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