Skip to main content

Death rate at Gujarat construction sites 74% of accidents; builders assert: 'can't avoid'

By Our Representative
  
In a surprise revelation, Right to Information (RTI) replies based on Badhkam Majur Sangathan (BMS) director Vipul Pandya’s plea show that a whopping 74 percent of those who have been victims of accidents at workplace in the construction sector died between 2008 and 2021 in Gujarat. Just about 26 percent of the victims survived, revealed the details presented by Pandya at a well-attended meeting organised by BMS on the occasion of the International Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28.
Obtained from his RTI pleas to various police stations, Pandya told the meet, which took place at the Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute (MGLI), Ahmedabad, in all 1,685 accidents were reported to different police stations of Gujarat. Of these, while 1,238 died, and just about 433 could survive.
“Most of the accidents took place in Gujarat’s major four cities – Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. Those who died were mainly Adivasi migrant workers, who come for work in cities in the construction sector. They are mainly either from the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat or from the bordering areas of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra”, Pandya said, adding, “Some of those who die are migrants from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.”
Among those who attended the meeting included prominent Gujarat builders’ association office bearers, labour and health rights activists, experts who have long been working on occupational health hazards, and a large number of migrant workers. Regretted Pandya, even though Rs 3,850 crore collected as labour welfare cess from the builders was lying idle with the Gujarat government, just about 214 compensations for deaths in accidents – Rs 3 lakh each – have been paid since 2008.

“A survey of 35 sites where construction activity has been going on across Gujarat took place with our help. What surprised the team of scholars who surveyed the sites was, while most workers did wear helmets and safety belts, they were neither trained nor made aware of how to avoid accidents”, said Pandya.
Added health rights activist Jagdish Patel, who has been working with silicosis victims in the Khambhat region of Gujarat for the last several decades, “There is a need to understand the mindset of the builders – they think accidents will happen, one cannot avoid them.” He added, “A perusal of the laws and rules and regulations, existing for the 24 years, suggests that only the builders have the right to declare and identify accidents. Workers have no right to refuse to work if they feel that they may become victims of accidents.”
Ironically, the builders’ representatives who spoke at the meet – Navneet Thakarshee, Tejas Joshi and Girish Singhai – claimed that one could not avoid accidents, that they would happen, that the only thing one should do is to take preventive measures so that these are fewer in numbers. They also contended that they took care of the construction workers to the fullest extent, including by providing health facilities and providing food when workers are in distress.
Prof Dileep Mavlankar, director, Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, advised construction workers to take multi-vitamin tablets to increase their immunity. He asked builders to contribute in this, pointing out, “The engineers at the construction sites should ensure such water storage facilities do not lead to the breeding of mosquitoes, as malaria is a common disease among those who work in the open. This would improve productivity.”
Prof Dilip Patel of the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat, regretted that the builders, who control the construction sector, consider investment in workers’ safety a financial burden. “As many as 38 accidents at construction sites take place in India daily. Contributing 9 percent to India’s GDP, according to our calculation the cost of accidents at the construction sites is a whopping Rs 1.46 lakh crore per annum. What is most worrisome is, none is made accountable for the accidents, even as builders blame the workers for all the mishaps”, he said, adding, “Big builder are known to switch off their phones when any accident occurs.”

Comments

Jagdish Patel said…
Very good report, Rajeev. Vipul Pandya came up with the idea to set up a Tripartite Safety Council of Construction Workers. Since the theme declared by ILO for World Day for Safety & health was enhancing social dialogue towards a culture of safety & health, this proposal is most appropriate and needs to be taken further. Construction companies need to learn how to investigate accidents and learn from the lessons. This would certainly reduce the mishaps. They can carry out safety audits and maybe Bandhkam Mazdur Sangh can help them along with some professionals. What was missing was, that the budget for safety and health of workers kept aside by the construction companies was not discussed at all. Unless there is an adequate budget they can not achieve any goals. But they have ot set any goals for themselves for the reduction of accidents which exhibits their lack of interest in the subject. Vipul has several other good suggestions like some common facilities for training the workers for small contractors. What was again missed was, the training of the employers- builders, contractors, supervisors, and so on. The responsibility of enforcing legal provisions rests with the employers. if they do not know what are the provisions how are they going to enforce them? So we need training for employers in a big way and State should invest in it.

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.