Blind eye to poor living conditions of metro labourers

BMRCL, labour dept turn blind eye to poor living conditions of metro labourers

A worker from the colony in Kudlu said about 15 workers have returned to their homes in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam over the last four weeks

Representative Image. Credit: DH File Photo

Migrant labourers who travel thousands of kilometres from home to build the metro are forced to live in squalid conditions and accept a third of the salary shown to labour officials.

BMRCL and labour officials ignored repeated media coverage on the living condition of the workers, who told DH on Monday that many of their fellow labourers have left the oppressive atmosphere while some are forced to continue working in the hope of collecting pending wages.

A labourer from West Bengal who did not wish to be named told DH that he joined the metro work back in February. He was promised a monthly salary of Rs 18,000.

“On paper, I’m employed as a foreman and receive Rs 18,000 a month. In reality, I haven’t got my salary for the past four months. I fought with the ‘thekedar’ (contractor) three or four times and received Rs 1,000. What do I send my family back home?” he asked.

Also read: Narrow escape for 60 as three-storey building collapses in Bengaluru

Another worker from the colony in Kudlu said about 15 workers have returned to their homes in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam over the last four weeks over non-payment of salaries and poor living conditions.

“These were people whose families were increasingly getting frustrated as they failed to send any money. The only thing they received on time was the monthly rations. Finally, we managed to pool in some money and send them home,” he said.

Ekta Mittal of Maraa, who has been examining the plight of migrant workers, said subcontracting has allowed Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to continue violating labour rights.

‘Holy cow’

Activist Vinay Srinivasa said the BMRCL has always been treated as a holy cow by governments at the state and the Centre.“No one has been held responsible for the deaths of labourers during construction work. The BMRCL can’t run away from responsibility. It is high time the government brings in some system of accountability in the corporation,” he said.

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