Labour migration delays Metro and highway projects in Pune
Though Maha-Metro got the nod from PMC to resume work and complete the pre-monsoon operations, the former face at least 50 per cent workforce shortageUpdated: May 23, 2020 16:25 IST
The work on metro and the highway connecting Katraj to Navale bridge, two major development projects in Pune, is hit after many migrant labourers left for their native places because of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) spread.
Though Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (Maha-Metro) got the nod from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to resume work and complete the pre-monsoon operations, the former face at least 50 per cent workforce shortage.
“The lockdown halted the metro work in the city and now we face labour shortage with migrant labourers returning to their hometowns. During the lockdown, we had 2,843 labourers working with the contractor. With 1,500 workers leaving for their hometowns, we are left with only around 1,300 to work on-site,” said Hemant Sonawane, general manager, public relations Maha-Metro.
He said, “It is essential for us to complete some of the crucial work on the riverfront and the riverbed before the monsoon. Hence, we have diverted all the remaining manpower to work on these critical areas and on junctions with almost no traffic.”
Sonawane said that while the departure of labourers has caused a setback, contractors are revising plans to ensure that work deadlines are met.
Atul Gadgil, Maha-Metro director, said, “We are managing with only 25 per cent manpower. Only pre-monsoon related critical works are going on. Earlier, our deadline for trial run was April 2020, but now it depends on the availability of labour and other administrative related things.”
According to Gadgil, Maha-Metro has decided to demolish two foot-over-bridges (FOBs) located at Kharalwadi and Vallabhnagar after Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) okayed the task. PMC has suggested demolition of FOB at Nal stop, but a decision is awaited.
PMC approved the work of six-laning of a stretch from Navale bridge to Katraj in November 2019, but the Covid-19 crisis has delayed the project.
Although the Public Works Department (PWD) began a trial patch of 300 metres, with two layers of work done for the road widening from the Navale bridge side, work came to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thirty labourers plus engineers and contractors were at work on site, but many workers left for their native places leaving the site with only engineers, said Rahul Kulkarni, assistant engineer, PWD for National Highway.
“If only we had received the permission to begin work earlier than April 15, 2020, we could have begun work as labourers would have been there. We have machinery on-site, but no drivers or operators,” he said.
Kulkarni also raised his apprehension about whether the labourers would return to work after undergoing 14-day quarantine.
“We had approached PMC five months ago for permissions from tree authority to transplant or cut 232 trees along the service road from Navale bridge to Katraj. We are still awaiting a hearing, while the forest department has given us the go ahead,” Kulkarni said.
Since the road is part of the urban stretch and not a complete highway, there are several utility lines which have still not been moved, he added.
The PWD official is confident that the project will be finished within deadline after an extension of six months was announced by the government.