Construction work, mostly in the real estate sector, has resumed in and around Patna with about 80 per cent of over 1,000 building construction companies getting back to work since mid-May.
Builders, however, have been able to resume work on only pre-approved projects, regular bank loans for which are being disbursed. Even during the lockdown period, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) approved 55 new projects in Bihar.
There has been a pendency of about 30-35 per cent in work resumption at construction sites, mostly of residential apartment buildings and marketing complexes in Patna and in some district towns such as Muzaffarpur, Ara, Gaya and Bhagalpur because of both lack of fund and workforce.
Even as over 40 lakh migrants have returned to Bihar, there are no signs yet of them coming forward to ask for work in the construction sector. Local contractors, too, are not keen on hiring them owing to apprehensions of Covid infection.
National vice-president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), Narendra Kumar said: “It is a good sign that construction work has resumed but there are issues with getting adequate labour and the cost of sand is very high. Real estate sector is not affected in Bihar as such. In fact, over 1,000 projects are pending for approval with Patna Municipal Corporation in absence of new building bylaws coming into force”. Kumar expects the situation to get better in six months.
Chairman and Managing Director, Nexgen Dream Homes Private Limited, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, said: “We have resumed work on most of the pre-approved projects, bank loans for which are being disbursed. We could not get any new project in the last three months because of Covid, nor was any flat sold. But it is still a welcome sign that we have resumed work on 60-70 per cent of our projects”. Singh has restarted work on three of his four building projects in Patna and one in Ara.
Rituraj Singh, director of Balaji Netarhat Homes Private Limited, said he had been hoping for the situation to get better with resumption of work. “But we are still not getting specialised workers who are in their villages. We have resumed construction work only on pending projects”, said the builder. Bihar has 975 building construction companies registered with RERA.
Local contractors are saying there had been a dearth of labour force with Covid cases being on the rise. Mohammed Salim, a local contractor, said: “We are only getting masons and helpers, all locals. Migrants have yet not started looking for jobs. Specialised workers such as carpenters and marble-fitters are still stuck in villages. Local workers are also charging more.”
Mithilesh Kumar, a contractor who arranges painters for apartment projects, said he had been able to get only 40-50 per cent painters than usual. “We are still happy that the work has resumed. As soon as local trains will start running, we will get more workers from the districts.”
Vishwakarma, another labour contractor, said: “We are still wary of giving jobs to migrants returning from Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra. In any case, we have a pool of local workers. Moreover, migrants have not approached us so far.”
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