Mumbai: Labour shortage throws a spanner in pre-monsoon road, desilting works


The BMC's critical pre-monsoon works are getting delayed as migrant labourers who wish to return to their home states are spending most of their time trying to get police permission for the journey or have left already. Officials said road and desilting works are the most hit.

A senior civic official said though there was a shortage of labour after the lockdown, somehow, they managed to start emergency pre-monsoon infrastructure work with 2,500 labourers in the first week of April. The number of labourers increased to 4,182 gradually, and with their efforts, the BMC began to execute 446 works of roads, bridges, the coastal road and repair of the water network.

Each worksite currently has an average of just nine labourers. For desilting of major nullahs, a contractor was appointed in the last week of March; he has been executing the works with machinery. But minor nullahs and roadside drains are badly hit due to labour shortage. The BMC, which was unable to float tenders for cleaning of minor nullahs and drains, allotted desilting works to various NGOs.

Opposition leader in the BMC and Congress corporator Ravi Raja said, "NGO labourers are refusing to step inside slums to clean nullahs for fear of getting infected. Cleaning of minor nullahs and roadside drains is not being done as required since there are no labourers. Why did the BMC wait till the last moment to float tenders of such important works? Also, why should nullahs not be cleaned throughout the year, instead of just once before monsoon? The city will get flooded."

A senior civic official said, "Since the past few days, most labourers have been spending a lot of time outside police stations to submit travel forms and are unable to report to work. We tried to convince them to stay back but in vain." Additional Municipal Commissioner P Velrasu said, "We are making alternative arrangements with other labourers. Civic agencies have been asked to look for backup. I have done a detailed review of all works, there is not much of a problem."

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