Construction workers toil in life-threatening situations without safety gear
Srinagar: Workers at construction sites in the Valley are seen playing with death every day as a majority of them work in dangerous situations without any safety gear, like helmets, gloves or even boots.
“You see there?” said labourer Abdul Rahman, pointing at the bricks and iron rods kept on the third floor of an under-construction building.
“God forbid if something falls down. I can’t even imagine the way we will be injured,” he said.
Rahman works at a construction site at Bemina where a warehouse is being built.
“If we die, great. Worse is we can get paralyzed for life,” said Rahman adding, “No one takes care of our lives, we have do this death work as we don’t have other work to do.”
Another worker at the site, Maqbool Ahmad Dar, came up just then in great pain and handed over Rs 50 to another labourer, asking him to get a band aid, some Dettol and a pain killer from a nearby shop. A minor cut had left Dar’s middle finger bleeding because of the torn gloves he had on, which were of no use.
“We need money so we can give our families two meals, otherwise who wants to do this work?” he said. The survivor of a gruesome work site accident six years ago, he recounts how he crashed down that fateful day in the summer of 2012 while working on a mobile tower line and received severe burns.
“Six years back, I was repairing a mobile tower line in my PDD department. The in-charge ordered the power supply to the area to be cut, but at the same time they gave the supply, forgetting that I was working. I got a shock and in no time I fell unconscious.”
When Dar came to consciousness, he was in a hospital bed with excruciating pain in his right arm. The doctors at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, where he had been taken, discovered severe gangrene rapidly spreading in his right arm. Blood had clotted his veins. The bones were fractured at six points. There were also multiple fractures in his back.
“I don’t remember what exactly happened. It was difficult to believe at first,” Dar said. “Since then, I keep thinking that it would have been better had I died in that incident. Since then, I left that job and in 2014 I started work as a construction labourer, but this job is also the same as that one. Here too is the danger of death, anything can happen, and we don’t have any high-tech safety equipment. The authorities did not provide anything even gloves or shoes.”
Given the cut he had received that day, this reporter asked Dar why no proper gloves had been provided. He said, “Who told you these gloves were provided to us? No, we bought these on our own. No safety gear has been given to any of us.”