Nearly 2.5 lakh construction workers have been unemployed for months in Krishna district alone, according to the district building workers’ union.

TDP protests unemployment due to alleged state govt delay in sand policy
news Friday, August 30, 2019 - 19:00

The Telugu Desam Party on Friday held protests across Andhra Pradesh, demanding compensation for the loss of livelihood for constructions workers over the past three months allegedly due to the state government’s delay in rolling out its new sand policy.

According to media reports, a few TDP leaders, including former ministers Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao and Chintamaneni Prabhakar, and Krishna District party chief Bachula Arjunudu, were taken into house arrest, preventing them from taking part in the protests. Party workers were seen gathered outside Uma Maheswara Rao's residence, where he told local media, "We are trying to protest in a democratic way, but they're arresting leaders across the state. A tractor of sand which used to cost Rs 600 earlier, now costs Rs 6,800. They want to halt all the good work done by the Chandrababu Naidu government."
 
Construction workers in Vijayawada had also held a demonstration at Dharna Chowk on Thursday. With sand quarries in the state remaining closed for the past few months, construction works in the region have almost come to a standstill, many workers said. According to the Krishna District Building Workers Union, nearly 2.5 lakh construction workers have been left without an income in Krishna district alone. 
 

 

Subbulu, a construction worker from Vijayawada, said, “We haven’t had a stable income for more than 3 months now. How long can we delay paying the rent and bills? It’s not easy to keep borrowing money either. It’s difficult to find other work because this is what we know. The Anna canteens are closed, so we don’t even have that option of affordable meals now.” She added that it has also been difficult to take care of medical emergencies, causing a strain on the family.  

Madhav, Vijayawada secretary, CITU, said that the workers must be given a compensation of Rs 10,000, as the state government was solely responsible for the lack of jobs in this period. K Polari, state chief secretary, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, said, “The government has announced financial assistance for different groups, like auto drivers, fishermen, handloom weavers, barbers (nayee brahmins), tailors and washer people (rajaka) communities. Some of them have been promised an annual financial aid of Rs 10,000. There are already funds for the workers under the state Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. We are only demanding that the workers be compensated from the funds meant for their own welfare.” 

Polari alleged that although the welfare board earlier had funds amounting to nearly Rs 1,500 crore, the previous TDP government had diverted the funds for a few other welfare schemes, including the Chandranna Bima Yojana. “Nearly 10.5 lakh workers are registered with the board, but the funds aren’t being used properly for the schemes meant to benefit them, like maternity benefits, scholarships, cover for accidents, accidental and natural deaths,” Polari said. 

Madhav also alleged that workers are being made to run around government offices and banks to claim their rightful benefits. While the state government has been citing a shortage of funds, Polari alleges that the cess to be collected towards the welfare board from construction companies is not being done regularly. 

Bicchal, another construction worker who was at the demonstration, said, “Schools reopened just as work started to become scarce. I have been finding it difficult to send my three daughters to school.” 

The TDP held protests across the state, including Mangalagiri, Eluru and Vijayawada. Speaking to the media in Mangalagiri, Nara Lokesh, son of former Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, and party General Secretary said, “There are 20 lakh building workers. On behalf of the TDP, I demand the government to aid them by paying a compensation of Rs 60,000. They have said that they used to earn a daily wage of Rs 500 to 700. They have lost a monthly income of nearly Rs 20,000. For three months they’ve had no work. They are being driven out of their homes, unable to afford rent, food and children’s education.” 

 

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