The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) which is carrying out some of the crucial infrastructure projects such as country's longest sea bridge –MTHL (Mumbai Trans Harbour Sealink), 300 km of long metro network, flyovers among a few others is facing tough time on all project sites amid spike in Covid-19 cases. A wave of fear has stung all labourers, who are testing positive for COVID and are being quarantined, along with the infamous shortage of oxygen cylinders for industrial and project use as it has been diverted to fulfill medical needs, are some of the unavoidable reasons cropped up due to the Covid-19 crisis.
One of the MMRDA's contractors, Shrenik Gandhi Team Eagle Infra Limited said that apart from workers, several of their family members have tested Covid positive and therefore they have been quarantined. Besides Covid, a few others have different medical complications like one of the supervisors is suffering from kidney stone problem and need to go on immediate medical leave. "We have called more labourers and have bought tickets for them, but they didn’t turn up due to the fear of the current situation in Mumbai. Besides, the prevailing fearful situation amongst workers for fabrication of entry exits material, the supply of raw material along with no oxygen to do the cutting work. Worried about the situation, laborers want to go back and their output has drastically reduced. While new labourers are not ready to come to Mumbai, even after offering them extra salaries," Gandhi stated.
Similar concern was raised by another contractor about the stressful situation among workers and staff to MMRDA affecting the project progress significantly. The contractor told MMRDA, "News channels and social media has been continuously showing content of non-availability of beds, oxygen shortages, which has terrified the workers, instilling fear in them and compelling them to return to their homes. This has resulted in reduction in manpower strength on site. "
R A Rajeev, Metropolitan Commissioner MMRDA commented, "We are doing our best to ensure smooth pace of all infrastructure work without hassles even in these challenging times. A coordination has been set up and regular updates of our officials are being taken to understand the situation on project sites. The availability of raw material and fearful situation amid Covid-19 among labourers is a major challenge before us."
While the MMRDA is fighting tooth and nail to ensure work stability, progress and maintain health of its labourers, a number of people have commented on social media to ramp up the infra projects due to less traffic and lockdown. Commenting on the people's comments on social media, MMRDA Commissioner added, "It is shocking to see that people are expecting speedy Metro and other infrastructure works since there is lockdown and less traffic on roads, which is a wrong belief. As like every other individual labourers too are humans and Covid-19 infection is also taking a toll on their health. Several labourers have been tested positive and have been quarantined."
Meanwhile, the contractors have ensured MMRDA that efforts are being put to bring in new workers and they are also trying to retain existing labourers on site by assuring them good care and counselling them regularly.