IIT Gandhinagar collaborates with CPWD to Launch Series of Welfare Measures for Migrant Laborers

Gandhinagar: Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar has joined hands with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to launch a series of welfare measures for the benefit of migrant laborers working in the construction projects at the Institute.

The Institute has been at the forefront of construction worker welfare since its inception in 2008. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute has stepped up its efforts to ensure the health, safety and well-being of around 800 construction workers involved in construction activities on campus.

The Institute constituted a ‘Shramik Kalyan Samiti’ (Labor Welfare Committee) to interact, educate and help construction workers fight against the pandemic

The Institute volunteer groups regularly sensitize the workers and create awareness about preventive measures against COVID-19, such as frequent hand wash and social distancing. Breathing techniques have been explained to the laborers. All the workers’ colonies are equipped with a first aid box.

Speaking about the welfare initiatives taken up by the Institute, Prof. Sudhir Jain, Director, IIT Gandhinagar, said, “All the workers were paid wages for the month of March and the Institute is coordinating with the CPWD and contractors to ensure payment of wages for the month for April as well. IIT Gandhinagar volunteers are in constant touch with the laborers regarding their essential needs. The CPWD ensures the supply of essential grains and also handles distribution of cooked food in the workers colonies. Two CPWD officials meet and counsel the laborers every alternate day.”

Prof. Sudhir Jain holds regular meetings with Institute and CPWD officials, visits the labor camps, and discusses their conditions with construction workers to ensure their needs are addressed.

Some of the other measures launched by IIT Gandhinagar include:

Ø Under the aegis of ‘Shramik Kalyan Samiti,’ Institute has launched a fundraising drive to provide support for construction workers and their families, while they are confined in the labor colonies due to sudden discontinuity of work. For every rupee of donation, IIT Gandhinagar is matching the amount to double the funds raised for workers’ welfare.

Ø IIT Gandhinagar is providing free medical support and consultation to construction workers in its medical center. A free screening test of all workers was done in the workers housing colony. Institute also provides ambulance services to workers needing medical examination or treatment; nearly 20 workers or their family members have utilized the service during the past month

Ø As workers were facing challenges in recharging their mobile phones due to the lockdown and as it is the only way for them to keep in touch with their family in their hometowns, the Institute is recharging the balance in mobile phone of construction workers with a 28-day validity plan through ‘Shramik Kalyan Samiti.’

Elaborating on the fundraising for labourers, Prof Gaurav Srivastava, Dean of Campus Development, IIT Gandhinagar, said, “The fundraising is being led by our alumnus Mr. Akash Keshav Singh and is being coordinated through ‘Nyasa’ – a student-run social outreach programme of IIT Gandhinagar that engages with construction workers and their families on a regular basis.”

The Nyasa volunteers also distributed sanitary napkins to the women in construction workers’ colonies and guided them about the importance of maintaining menstrual hygiene. The Shramik Kalyan Samiti has also distributed cloth masks, made with the help of locally trained village women, to the construction workers.

The Laborer colonies and frequently-touched surfaces are regularly disinfected. Institute ensures that soaps and water are available in toilet blocks/washbasins of these colonies at all times. Hand wash has also been placed in labor camps at various places.

Welfare of construction workers on IITGN campus is among the most far-reaching community outreach activities of the Institute. It ensures that they get pukka housing units with water supply, electricity, LPG connection and clean sanitation facilities.

IIT Gandhinagar has worked closely with CPWD for ensuring this by incorporation of special conditions and drawings in the construction contracts. All construction contracts include conditions obligating contractors to construct housing units for workers within 60 days of start of the work.

The IIT Council in 2013 had recognized IITGN’s labor welfare and community outreach practices at IIT Gandhinagar and stated: “The exemplary practices of IIT Gandhinagar should be introduced in all IITs and be shared on the IIT Council website.” Its construction workers welfare program was recognized with the national HUDCO Award for ‘Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment 2013-14.’

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