By Sudhir Katiyar
A migrant labourer slipped and fell five floors to his death at a construction site in June 2014, prompting fears that the site is unsafe. Rudaai Singh, from the Village Sumerpur, Tehsil Manaatu, Jharkhand, was cleaning and dumping waste with two co-wokers when the incident happened. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered at Ahmedabad’s Bopal police station at 11:45pm that evening, and the body was taken for a post-mortem at the Sola Civil Hospital and then transported to Rudaai Singh’s home in Sumerpur, Jharkhand. It is important to fully investigate such incidents, particularly when they occur at leading industrial houses, yet many media outlets are reluctant to cover such news.
This huge development has, according to one estimate, already seen 15 accidental deaths due to poor safety measures for labourers. The site spreads over 750 acres of land and has been under construction for 5 years, with a plan to build 20,000 flats and 300 premium bungalows along with other commercial buildings.
If this is the situation on a big construction site, it is not hard to imagine what conditions might be like on lesser known sites – which are likely to be much worse. Looking at this issue on a more national scale, a report by Kauser and Varghese (2011) shows that between 2001-2010, there was a steep increase in construction related deaths. During this period of real-estate boom, the amount of deaths, particularly caused by fires, shockingly doubled between 2009 and 2010. The sheer amount of accidents raises serious questions about the lack of safety norms in place and why more has not been done to avoid such clear violations of workers’ rights.