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1,000 construction workers died in Gujarat, yet labour safety takes 'backseat'

By Our Representative
As many as 1,000 construction workers have died over the last 11 years in Gujarat, yet no criminal offense has been registered against the builders and contractors, responsible for hiring them, three organizations working for their cause, Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan, Majur Adhikar Manch and Bandhkam Mazdoor Vikas Sangh have said in a statement.
Issued on the occasion of the International Human Rights day, December 10, the three organizations, which have come together on one platform called Bandhkam Shramik Sankalan Samiti, said, what is equally appalling is, the Gujarat government has failed to ensure that workers are provided with safety equipment to the workers on the site of their work.
Nor has the state government moved to provide any type of social security and welfare benefits to the construction workers, said the statement, adding, while human rights of workers are being violated, fatal accidents been occurring, but the officialdom is totally indifferent towards them.
The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act,1996, requires the government to appoint special inspectors, yet there are far very few of them to inspect whether the workers' safety is being ensured at construction sites. A construction workers' labour welfare board has been created under the law; it too does not have enough staff, the statement said.
Further, the statement said, there is little effort to ensure registration of construction workers, an essential prerequisite for them to avail of welfare benefits. Even though the board has a substantial welfare fund of about Rs 2,700 crore, it added, only 10 per cent of it has not been spent so far, it pointed out, adding, this state of affairs continues despite labour unions' repeated pleas.
Pix of sites at Sargasan, off Gandhinagar by senior photo journalist Kevin Antao


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