At a time when political parties are going all out to garner support for their candidates, the upcoming Lok Sabha elections have added to the woes of builders by hampering the flow of workers from other states into Himachal Pradesh. These workers come from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, which go to polls in the second and third phases.
In the state’s construction sector, most skilled and unskilled labourers come from Bihar, Jharkhand and the politically-significant Uttar Pradesh.
They usually return home in winter as the cold weather brings construction activities in half the state to a halt. This year, most workers clubbed their winter leave with Holi festivities, and are now likely to come after the polls.
This has given owners and builders a reason to worry, as most could not start building the houses, and many were working on big projects, which are now suspended.
Police department’s data shows that in the state, 3,37,455 workers are from Bihar; 68,934 are from Jharkhand; and 3,55,269 migrants belong to Uttar Pradesh. More than 1 lakh workers have come from Kashmir. Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh will witness multi-phase elections, with most polling between April 10 and May 12.
Private construction firm owner Pramod Soot told HT that labour shortage had hit some big projects. “I have some big projects in hand, but the issue of shortage of workers has surfaced. After their winter leave, the workers have stayed home to celebrate Holi, and have now informed us that they will return after the elections. Most workers in my firm are from Jharkhand, especially Latehar and Giridih districts,” he added.
Sarwan Kumar, a worker from Aurangabad in Bihar, who is working in an outsourced government construction project here, told HT he could not go on leave for Holi, but his brother had informed him that their constituency would go to polls on April 10, and asked him to come home. “I am going home for elections, as I have promised my brother,” he said.Labour contractor Lachman Gupta, who has some domestic building projects pending, said some of the workers had gone home in the winter. Those who had come back, left again due to Holi and will now arrive after elections. “They are from Samastipur district of Bihar, where polling is scheduled for April 30,” added Gupta.
Anil Sharma from Theog, 28 km from here, said he had outsourced his house construction to a contractor. “Due to shortage of labour, no work has been done over the last four months and the contractor has informed me that the workers will come after polling on April 17,” he said.
“It is good for the democracy that labourers understand the importance of voting and are giving it preference over their livelihoods,” said an Election Commission official.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times