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Covid-19: Just 5% Gujarat masons agree to take all precautions at work, home

By Our Representative
A new study, carried out by an organization that has been working for the advancement of the building artisan, mainly masons, for nearly two decades, has found that only 5% respondents are aware of taking the three necessary precautions amidst Covid-19 crisis while on work on site and at home -- use masks, physical distancing, and washing hands.
“This highlights the need for the sensitization of the artisans so that they can work without contracting Covid-19”, the study, based on survey of nearly 650 artisans in 12 districts of Gujarat by the National Centre for People's Action in Disaster Preparedness-Centre for Ecocentric Development and People's Action (CEDAP-NCPDP) says.
According to the study, “A little more than a third of the artisans (38%) said they would use masks on site to safeguard. Another third (33%) mentioned about the norm on physical distancing. And 21% artisans mentioned washing hands frequently.”
Comments the study, “The least preference of this option is justifiable as there is water shortage at majority of places in Gujarat”, adding, “Most of them are not used to such washing because of lack of facilities for this.”
Called “Study of the Impact of Covid 19 and Lockdown on Building Artisans”, the survey is based on a telephonic interview carried out between April 16 and May 12 in Gujarat’s Aravalli, Gandhinagar, Gir-Somanath, Junagadh, Morbi, Mehsana, Porbandar, Rajkot, Sabarkantha and Surendranagar districts.
The main issues focused on during the survey include the ability for the artisan household to sustain in present condition and for what duration; expectations from the government; activities the artisans were doing; assistance received from the government; and precautions taken for protecting themselves against Covid-19.
Pointing out that 45% artisans confirmed that they are out of work following the sudden lockdown declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24, adding, even after strict restrictions were lifted three weeks later, only 30% confirmed that they were involved in construction activities, with 13% stating that were engaged in agriculture work in their respective villages. Then there were 12% artisans said they had to engage themselves in other smaller jobs.
The study finds that nearly a quarter (28%) of the respondents have a stock of rations that would last for three weeks, while a quarter expected to sustain for two weeks or less. Only 26% artisans confirmed they have enough stock for more than one month.
Quarter (28%) of the respondents have a stock of rations that would last for 3 weeks, while a quarter expected to sustain for 2 weeks or less
While 98% of the artisans confirm that they hade received ration aid from the government, the study says, 75% artisans confirmed that they would end up borrowing money for their daily needs from a local source. "Among the respondents who have ration stock expected to last for up to three weeks, 87% said they have shortage of money and will need to borrow money.”
The study notes, “Majority of the artisans (58%) said that they expect monetary help from the government. Nearly one fifth (19%) respondents said that they want work. Merely 1% artisans said they do not require any aid from government and that they are self-sufficient.”
The study further finds that 94% people have not received any financial assistance from any government source. Most artisans said, they have tried to get in touch with authorities of the Gujarat State Construction Worker’s Welfare Board (GSCWWB), but have been unable to get any useful guidance or information about the plans for assistance by the government.
This has happening, says the study, despite the fact that an aid of Rs 1,000 is supposed to have been given by the board to its members. The study believes, GSCWWB membership is a hurdle in getting getting government help. While the board has upwards of Rs 2,900 crore collected from the 1% cess on construction before the Covid-19 arrival, in order to avail the benefit the artisan must be an active member of the board.
The survey shows that in total 54% respondents have taken the board membership, and of these 26% have failed to get it renewed. “Some said that due to lack of education they tend to remain unaware about the process or documents required for membership, also they fail get any information regarding various schemes for welfare”, the study says.

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