Lockdown relaxation by Centre won’t help, say builders

Lockdown relaxation by Centre won’t help, say builders

Representative image/PTI Photo

The lockdown relaxation provisions provided by the Union government to the construction industry, to infuse new blood into the dwindling economy, has turned out to be a hot potato as the majority of the builders say ‘all the advices’ cannot be followed.

The builders say that they would prefer to wait till the complete lifting of lockdown than commencing work right now as complying with the government suggestions would only add to their already stressed balance-sheets. Moreover, they say, with a majority of the migrant labourers heading back to their natives, finding even minimum number of labourers would be cumbersome for them.

For over a month now, the industries supplying raw material such as cement, steel and sand, have shut their machines, so the builders fear that getting raw material transported during these strict restriction times is also a challenge.

Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) State President Austin Roach said there is little clarity from State and Central governments related to the relaxation provided to the construction industries. “We are keen to commence the work. However, till governments give a clear picture on the relaxation provided to the builders, not many would be keen to start the construction,” he said.

Majority of the real estate development work is taking place in urban and metropolitan cities. However, with most of the bigger cities coming under ‘Red zone’ of lockdown and Union government giving provisions for construction work only in ‘Green zone’, CREDAI Bengaluru unit president Kishore Jain feels the relaxation would not help majority of the builders in state.

While CREDAI, Karnataka, does not have the exact figures of migrant labourers working in construction industries, both Austin and Kishore said the majority of them, especially the unskilled labourers, are from either North Karnataka or North India and have returned home.

For a small-scale builder like Amit Rao in Hubballi, restarting his budget apartment project by housing all the labourers at the construction site by providing them food and other basic amenities along with their daily wages, only means stretching the budget.

“At a time when people are not coming forward to buy property, providing food and shelter to labourers would mean an additional burden on the builders,” he said and added that they can neither postpone the work, as RBI has just postponed the EMIs and not them waived
of them.  

Kishore says like Union government, builders too have limited resources and with the burden of EMIs, utility charges to Escoms, property taxes and others, the builders cannot stretch beyond a point. “Without government’s support the industry will die soon,” he said.