The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is exploring ways to restart the pending development works in the city.
With over 165 projects suspended because of the lockdown, including drainage works, housing projects as well as cleaning of storm water drains to prepare for the monsoon, in a video conference on Thursday,
Mayor Dr Jigeesha Seth asked the departments to prepare a plan to bring back the labourers by the beginning of May when the lockdown is expected to be lifted. Seth also asked the civic body to begin the pre-monsoon works as soon as possible.
Seth, who presided over a meeting on video, in which members of the Standing Committee and various departments joined, emphasised on having contractors of the VMC draw up a list of their labourers from within Gujarat.
The mayor has also urged the departments to coordinate with the contractors to bring back labourers within Gujarat, arrange their accommodation and take responsibility of their health during their stay in the city in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Seth said, “Many of these projects are important like the storm water drains, drainage works and even water works. As policy, we do not undertake work during monsoon and we have had a very heavy monsoon last year. So we need to be prepared. We always begin pre-monsoon work by mid-April. I have asked the departments to explore the possibility of contractors bringing back labourers from Dahod and tribal belts. We will help them in the process of screening and getting clearance from districts to travel. But the contractors will have to take care of the workers on day to day basis to ensure that there is no COVID-19 scare even after the lockdown ends.”
“It is a very big question before us whether they will be willing to return to work. We know that most of the rural areas are wary of COVID-19 being an urban disease,” she said, adding that despite the guideline issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding migrant labourers stranded in cities being offered work locally, it is not a plausible option.
“We have about 900 migrant labourers in the city shelters but we don’t think it will be possible to employ them into these projects because our contractors would be comfortable bringing their men back if the permissions are in place,” Seth said.