Has anyone spared a thought for the approximately 15,000 labourers toiling day and night in rough weather to make Delhi a world-class city for the 2010 Commonwealth Games?
If a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi High Court based on two surveys is to be believed, they are working and living in highly dangerous and deplorable conditions.
They earn lower than the stipulated wage and have no access to even the most basic sanitation and health facilities.
A bench comprising of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice R S Endlaw has sought the response of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and agencies in charge of the construction -- DDA, CPWD, NDMC and MCD - on the PIL filed by People’s Union For Democratic Rights, an NGO, by February 3.
The bench asked government counsel Najmi Waziri to take instructions about whether the government can form a committee to oversee the welfare of the labourers, including payment of minimum wages.
Senior lawyer and human rights activist Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO, told the Bench that the plight of the 1982 Asiad workers was also the same, till the Supreme Court intervened on the same NGO’s petition and ordered improvement of their conditions.
Alleging that the Minimum Wages Act was being violated, he contended that while it was Rs 151 in Delhi, most of the workers at Commonwealth Games sites were being given between Rs 100 and 114 and also not being paid double wages for overtime. The PIL claimed that workers were not being provided proper safety equipments.
“It is known that one worker died in December 2008. Many deaths were occurring but are going unrecorded,” it said.
Gonsalves also demanded issuance of proper ID cards to workers.
He complained of unhygienic conditions in camps, with irrregular supply of power and water and an insufficient number of toilets.
The PIL wanted setting up of an independent committee by the court to visit sites, so that it can see for itself the plight of the labourers.