Dying jobs force migrant labourers out of BangaloreMarch 30th, 2009 - 2:38 pm ICT by IANS
By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, March 30 (IANS) He may not know the nitty-gritty of recession, but Sriram Prasad, owner of a ‘dhaba’ in India’s Silicon Valley, knows that these are hard times. In the last few months his clientele - mostly construction workers and daily wagers - has come down by nearly 70 percent.
“Never ever in our four years of business have we experienced such a slump. Most of our regular customers have left Bangalore. They have no work. The construction industry has no jobs to offer,” said Prasad, 52, who runs the low cost eatery with his wife Parvati in Electronics City here.
“If this situation continues, I too am planning to leave Bangalore with my wife and two teenaged children. Now Bangalore has nothing to offer to poor migrant labourers who flock from across the country,” said a perplexed Prasad, who had migrated from Jawalaga village in Gulbarga, 700 km north of here.
The real estate sector, once a flourishing business avenue, has literally been grounded by the global economic slump. And with it the woes of poor migrant construction workers too have increased.
Many new flats and deluxe houses are waiting for buyers and several developers and builders have been forced to stall their future projects.
“No survey has been done so far to estimate the exact number of unsold flats. But looking at the effect of global economic recession in the city’s real estate market, the figures could be in hundreds,” said Raj Menda, president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developer’s Associations of India (CREDAI).
CREDAI is the apex body of organised real estate developers and builders across India. “As there is no business, there is no work. Thousands of construction workers are jobless now,” Menda added.
Most of the skilled and unskilled labourers in Bangalore’s construction industry come from Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.
Moreover, thousands of people from the north Karnataka region, including Raichur, Bidar and Gulbarga districts, migrated to the city to work in the once booming industry.
This led to the mushrooming of labourer colonies on the periphery of construction areas in the city’s northeastern, eastern and southeastern parts.
“But slowly these labourer ‘ghettos’ too are disappearing from the city’s landscape,” said R.M. Palanna, director of Outreach Onsite, the only NGO working for children of migrant labourers in Bangalore.
According to an estimate by Outreach Onsite, Bangalore until recently had 500,000 migrant construction workers. “But in the last six months, half of Bangalore’s construction workers have left the city as there is no work for them,” he said.
Santosh Suna, 35, a migrant worker, said: “We are jobless. Nobody is ready to give us work. They say real estate business is down.
“I have been without work for the last two months. I have no money to take care of my house rent and food. I will soon go back to my home,” said Suna, a native of Muribahal village in Orissa’s Bolangir district, known for acute poverty and starvation deaths.
“Back home also there is no work. We have no land to till. I have the responsibility of taking care of my aged parents. I came to Bangalore to earn money and send it home,” lamented Suna, who shares a dingy room with two of his other friends.
Echoing similar views, Suna’s roommate Bhola Singh from Bihar says: “There is no work in my village and I have been working in Bangalore for the last six years and earning enough to send money for my wife and three children. But as there is no work in Bangalore, I am planning to leave the city soon.”
(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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