Inglorious fate of human efforts
Workers from across the country made a beeline for the Capital in the run-up to the Games — but just 38,000 of them exist, officially. Like Chuttan, there are thousands of them who are not even on the records. Since they are not registered with the government, they don’t exist. Mallica Joshi and Jatin Anand report. Schemes and benefits | Reality checkdelhi Updated: Sep 14, 2010 00:15 IST
Eighteen-year-old Chuttan from Bihar’s Katihar district has been working for 15 hours a day for the past four months at the Commonwealth Games village where all the athletes and delegates participating in the Games will be staying.
"I’ve done everything from transporting bricks to laying tiles on the floor and now help the elders install the sound barriers on the flyover opposite it," said Chuttan.
Starry-eyed with dreams of transforming the Capital into a ‘world class’ edifice and seduced by promises of steady employment, healthcare and free education for their children, an estimated one million labourers migrated to the Capital months in advance.
Workers from across the country made a beeline for the Capital in the run-up to the Games — but just 38,000 of them exist, officially. Like Chuttan, there are thousands of them who are not even on the records. Since they are not registered with the government, they don’t exist.
A group of 22 voluntary groups, working for social welfare of these workers said that there are at least one million of them in Delhi. "In three years, around a million workers have landed in Delhi. However, there is no data about them. During the 1982 Asian Games as well, a similar number of workers had come to the city," said Miloon Kothari, coordinator, Housing and Land Rights Network.
The Delhi Government’s labour department has a welfare board for construction labourers, which gives them an identity as a construction worker and several facilities for a comfortable life. But here’s the catch. The registration is voluntary. It is up to the labourer to get himself registered. The construction companies are under no obligation to get the labourers registered once they complete the mandatory time on job.
Of the 38,000 workers that exist in official records, 22,000 have been registered in the last six months after a committee set up by the High Court revealed that labourers were living in deplorable conditions and they should be registered on priority.
No permanent accommodation has been provided for the migrant labourers and the government is hoping that they will go back to where they came from after the construction is over.
All the CWG projects are under the government but government agencies shirk responsibility of labourers’ living conditions.
"Since we have not employed any workers we had nothing to do with them," said Neemo Dhar, spokesperson, Delhi Development Authority, the construction agency for the Games Village and some other venues.