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Migrant Women in Construction Work: Examining Issues and Challenges in Delhi

Author : Sanghmitra Acharya, Sunita Reddy | 2016 |
Published By: Amity Journal of Healthcare Management

Continuous urbanization in Delhi, like most other metropolitan cities, has contributed to the expansion of construction industry. Most unskilled and semi-skilled labours get absorbed in this industry as it enters the city in search of livelihood. Rural to urban migration in search of better working and living conditions, however, is like a mirage. The life is often harsh, pathetic, and deplorable in places of destination like Delhi, yet migration continues, as the place of origin is even more appalling where even survival is not secured. The present paper captures this through the experience of 500 migrant women workers in nine districts of Delhi engaged in construction work. Largely hailing from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal, they have migrated during the past 40 years. About 80% of them are Scheduled Caste, landless agricultural laborers who find it difficult to survive back home and therefore migrated to Delhi with hope, dreams and aspirations. The present paper also discusses the relevance of providing skill building and role of social protection by facilitating the construction workers to register and get the benefits under the State provisions like ‘Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996’ and ‘Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare CESS Act, 1996’. A huge amount of money is available for welfare of workers, but lack of a clear planning, commitment and sensitivity to use this fund for the workers’ welfare leaves it unused. Most of the migrant women workers live in slums. Except for acquiring a few assets, their life in Delhi is as challenging as in the place of origin, with many women working hard to meet the ends. Among these construction workers, 99% are engaged in non-mechanical work, mostly as head-loaders, and bajari makers, earning around 150 rupees per day, lesser than the minimum wages. About 71% live in kaccha (semi-permanent), single room unit. Only one-fourth have separate toilets and some place to rest. Violation of legal provision is visible in the absence of crèche facility to 86% of them. They often get injured and meet with accidents. Instead of getting any compensation, they are often laid off, especially if the accidents render them disabled. Provision of basic minimum facilities and better living conditions are missing for those who form the backbone of the urbanization in cities through construction work. The heterogeneous characteristics of the women workforce with growing informalization of employment, lack of visibility calls for improvement in the quality of employability and extension of social protection.

URL : 20170823043437.pdf

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