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Entitlements of Seasonal Migrant Construction Workers to Housing, Basic Services and Social Infrastructure in Gujarat`s Cities: A Background Policy Paper

Author : Renu Desai | 2016
Published By: Centre for Urban Equity, CEPT University

Seasonal migrant workers contribute significantly to the national, State and urban economy, and yet they remain on the extreme margins in their urban work destinations, living in dismal housing conditions on construction sites or in the most vulnerable informal settlements and tenure arrangements off-site. Access to basic services like water and sanitation is lacking or profoundly inadequate in most instances while access to social infrastructures of health and education for their children is a major challenge. This paper examines the legislative, policy and governance context that shapes the entitlements of seasonal migrant construction workers to housing, basic services and social infrastructures in Gujarat’s three largest cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara with a view towards better understanding the reasons for their marginalized living conditions in the city and the constraints and possibilities for improving them. Expanding and realizing these entitlements is a crucial step in recognizing seasonal migrants as citizens as well as making urbanization more inclusive. The paper comprises of two main sections. The section on labour regulations discusses four labour laws: the Contract Labour Act 1970, the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act 1979, the Building and Other Construction Workers Act 1996 (BOCW Act), and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act 1996. This includes examining the experience and status vis-à-vis the three tasks that are central to the implementation of the BOCW Act— the regulation of employers and construction sites, the registration of construction workers and the implementation of welfare schemes for construction workers—and discussing their implications vis-à-vis access to decent housing, basic services and social infrastructure for the workers and their families. The section also briefly considers two additional instruments for the regulation of public and private construction sites—the contractual conditions put forth by public authorities which regulate construction sites of public projects and the development permission process of the city authorities which regulate building construction in the city by developers/contractors—and discusses their implications for ensuring that migrant construction workers and their families are provided decent housing, basic services and social infrastructure in the city. The section on urban policies discusses four sets of policies and programmes. First, it examines the mainstream slum and housing policies and programmes for the urban poor which are not explicitly targeted at migrant labour but have an implicit stance towards this group. This includes the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) sub-mission of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM); the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY); the In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISR) and Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) programmes of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Housing for All (Urban); and the Gujarat government’s SRS-type projects under its 2010 regulations and 2013 policy and Mukhyamantri Gruh Awas Yojana (MGAY). This also briefly examines programmes of infrastructure for basic services—such as AMRUT and Swachh Bharat Mission—to see whether they seek to expand access to basic services amongst migrant workers. Second, it looks at the recent preparation of a draft national urban rental housing policy and some recent initiatives by municipal authorities to create rental housing. Third, it examines the interventions around setting up homeless shelters in cities. These two approaches—rental housing and homeless shelters—are marginal to the overall approach to housing for the urban poor but are more directly relevant for migrant construction workers. Fourth, it briefly outlines some of the welfare programmes for food, health and education that are applicable across the country/State to look into how they facilitate and/or constrain access to these entitlements for migrant construction workers and their family members in the city.

URL : 20170804032806.pdf

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