Engineering Contractors bring back Migrants for Mumbai Metro Projects

Engineering companies executing metro projects of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) have started bringing back migrant labourers, and nearly 755 labourers are expected to return to the city in July for a metro line project, according to a senior official.

Not just from outside Maharashtra but also people from various parts of the state are also coming to the city to work for the projects. According to MMRDA, thousands of labourers, who had returned to their villages especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, are being brought back by their contractors to ensure speedy completion of the works.

Contractors of the Dahisar East-Andheri East Metro 7 line, including J Kumar, NCCL, Larsen & Toubro, ITDC and Capacite, are making efforts to get the labourers back from other states, MMRDA said. “These contractors are getting back the workers mainly by road as the (regular) train services have been cancelled till August 12,” MMRDA Joint Metropolitan commissioner B G Pawar said.

Many locals from different parts of Maharashtra are also coming to Mumbai following Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s call to provide employment to ‘sons of the soil’ in metro and other infrastructure projects, he said.

“As per the Chief Minister’s direction, we released a requirement of 16,726 workers at different project sites. We have got a good response for this as many locals from different parts of the state are coming on their own,” Pawar noted.

As per MMRDA, nearly 755 labourers are expected to be brought back from different states in July for the Metro Line-7 project. So far, 115 have already been sourced by the contractors of the Metro 7 line. As many as 386 labourers have been sourced from Maharashtra so far, including those who have come on their own, and another 175 locals would be deployed in July for the project.

Out of the 755, a total of 680 labourers are expected to be sourced by J Kumar (275), NCCl (355) and ITDC, which are the main contractors of the project, according to MMRDA. Engineering firm Larsen & Toubro, which has bagged the contract for providing traction and auxiliary power supply and SCADA services for the corridor, has already sourced 37 labourers from states outside Maharashtra so far since the lockdown, are likely to get another 25 in July, MMRDA data showed.

Earlier this month, L&T CEO and Managing Director S N Subrahmanyan said the company was taking initiatives to mobilise labourers to ensure completion of projects. “In the pre-COVID-19 (period), we had more than 2.2 lakh labourers across almost 950 project sites, but today we have around 1.2 lakh working.

“While some labourers who had left during Holi have not yet returned, some have left because of psychological pressures, may be due to pandemic or seeing others leave. We are working out on mobilising these labourers,” Subrahmanyan had said.

MMRDA had planned to commission the Metro line 7 by December this year. However, Metropolitan Commissioner R A Rajeev recently said the deadline could be missed by almost two to three months because of the extended lockdown and shortage of labourers.

When asked if the measures to bring back the labourers were taken to speed up the completion of the project, Pawar said, “Yes, they have to complete the projects”. “Also, labourers want to come back and work. Therefore, almost all contractors of various projects are sourcing labourers either from Maharashtra or other parts of the country. We are still collating data for other projects,” he added.

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