An ambitious project launched by the Punjab government for the construction of sheds-cum-night shelters for labourers in July 2013 has failed to take off in Patiala city even after two years since the approval of the scheme.
The scheme was approved by the then Punjab labour minister, Surjit Kumar Jayani, in July 2013 after taking stock of the problems faced by the labourers.
Jayani had announced shed construction for labourers at district and sub-division level across the state with the cost of `10 crore with the help of municipal corporations and committees. However, besides few districts, including Hoshiarpur, Bathinda, Mohali and Ferozepur, project has failed to see the light of the day in other districts of the state.
In Patiala, one such shed was to come up near Gurbax colony and 10 other locations, but due to alleged non-availability of land, the scheme failed to take off in the district.
As per the information, the district labour department had identified 10 desired locations, including Arya Samaj Chowk, Lakkar Mandi, Bhadson road, Sanauri Adda Samania gate, Urban Estate, near railway station, Polo Ground and Qila Chowk where labourers could sit and take shelter for seeking work in the scorching heat and cold weather.
When contacted assistant labour Commissioner Jatinderpal Singh said, "The project is hanging fire because city's civic body has yet not given us any land for construction of the sheds. We sent the project file to MC officials last year, but till date the MC has not allotted us any vacant land in the city to construct sheds for labourers."
Meanwhile, the municipal corporation officials denied getting any such demand regarding land from the labour department. Harkiranpal Singh, superintending engineer (SE), MC, said, "The labour department once approached MC in 2014 for land allotment in Gurbax Colony. But that request was denied as we don't have any vacant land in the area. But they never asked us for other alternative locations in the city."
Murli Lal, a daily labourer, said he has been standing at Arya Samaj Chowk daily for the last 14 years for seeking work, despite of the extreme weather. "But government is doing nothing for us, except for making false promises," the labourer added.
In July 2013, the state government had announced construction of night shelters-cum sheds for labourers with a budget of Rs 10 crore to protect them from extreme weather conditions while seeking work.
As per the project, sitting arrangements, drinking water and washrooms facilities had to be provided at the sheds and walls of the sheds would be used for advertisement. The collected money from advertisement was to be spent on maintenance of the sheds.