Maharashtra eases lockdown but infra projects yet to pick up

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Even as Maharashtra is in the ‘Mission Begin Again’ mode to revive economic activities in the state, the progress of many infrastructure projects is slow, as the workforce at most of them , primarily in Mumbai, is half than the required count.

For Metro works being carried out by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in and around Mumbai, the required labour force is around at least 6,000 workers. “We hardly have around 3,000-3,500 workers at various sites. Even though the workforce has started coming to the city, lockdown in states like Bihar and Jharkhand has limited the numbers,” said an MMRDA official on the condition of anonymity.

At the beginning of the lockdown in March, MMRDA had around 11,000 workers at different sites. Apart from the metros, MMRDA is also implementing the 22-km sea bridge connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. While more than 5,000 workers were available at the site before lockdown, only 2,247 workers were at the site even at the end of July.

For the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the most complex, fully underground Metro-3 (Colaba-Seepz), around 8,100 workers are currently working at the site, instead of almost 15,000 workers who were present before the lockdown. In June-July, only 5,600 workers were available at the site, sources said.

With a shortage in labour force, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thakeray in June had also asked state agencies to employ bhoomiputras or “sons of soil” in Metro and other infrastructure works to keep the work going and not depend on labourers who had left the state.

On Wednesday, Maharashtra recorded its highest single-day spike of 17,433 infections (first in excess of 17,000), taking the count up to 825,739. The number of active cases in the state has also crossed the 200,00-mark with a case load of 201,703 cases. The state also crossed the 25,000-mark for Covid-19 casualties after 292 deaths were reported.

On Wednesday, Mumbai recorded 1,622 cases, much higher than the daily number of cases seen in August, which ranged between 900 and 1,400. Its tally reached 148,569. Of them, 20,810 are active cases.