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All work, little pay for Commonwealth Games workers

Behind the frenetic activity at CWG construction site, is a seamy, hidden story: the brazen exploitation of the men and women creating India’s showcase event of 2010 — the Commonwealth Games, reports Ajai Masand.

delhi Updated: Sep 26, 2009 12:21 IST
Ajai Masand

Just behind the Delhi Secretariat, the city’s seat of power, at least 1,000 workers are working between nine and 12 hours a day at transforming the Indira Gandhi stadium into a world-class sports complex.

Behind the frenetic activity, is a seamy, hidden story: the brazen exploitation of the men and women creating India’s showcase event of 2010 — the Commonwealth Games.

The law says the daily minimum wage is Rs 152 for eight hours of work. Here, the men get Rs 80-115 and the women Rs 75-100 for nine to 12 hours.

Government laws are being broken by the government.

Delhi labour minister Mangat Ram Singhal told HT on Friday he was aware that rules were being flouted, but, he added, the workers were not aware of their rights and were too scared of the contractors to complain.

CPWD executive engineer Pradeep Gupta said they couldn’t act without complaints.

There is no overtime and the conditions are inhumane — open sewers, slus, broken drains and a perennial stink.

Yogesh and Subhas, from West Bengal’s Dinapur, work 12 hours a day for Rs 100.

The workers are mostly from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal.

Bablu Murmu from Jharkhand was brought by a contractor with 40 others. He was promised Rs 4,500 for 50 days on a 12-hour work shift — approximately Rs 90 a day. He said he had no idea about minimum wages, and had no choice.

HT spoke to over 60 men and women, the story was the same.