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Contractors make hay as labour shortage hits construction sector in Karnataka

Nearly four months after the farm and construction labourers from Mysuru and surrounding districts of the Southern Karnataka returned home fearing Covid-19, the labour market is witnessing a new trend.

Amid acute shortage of skilled manpower, labour contractors are gaining prominence among building contractors and plantation owners. These middlemen are also approached by people building their own houses as hiring labourers has become a herculean task since lockdown.

Several residents wit plans to revamp their homes said they are forced to approach the middlemen who arrange workers from districts like Vijayapura, Raichur among others due to the shortage of labourers.

“For each labourer arranged, they seek a commission of Rs 200 to Rs 300 based on the skill,” said Dr Gurudas, a physician currently constructing a house in Vasanthnagar.

National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) Karnataka chapter president Satish Kumar said around 25% to 30% of the labourers engaged in construction works have moved to agriculture sector following good rainfall in the villages. “This resulted in the labour shortage,” he said.

“The labour demand and supply system is multi dimensional. Labourers who left the state for heir villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are not happy there either. They are ready to return. But the construction sector is yet to pick up here,” he said.

“Local labourers have returned to the farming sector. So, people are facing shortage of labourers even for emergency works,” he said.

The Southern Karnataka plantation sector is also witnessing a similar trend. Bose Mandanna, former vice-chairman of the Coffee Board of India and a plantation owner from Kodagu, said the concept of Jeep labourers has become very popular here. “The jeep owners bring the labourers from places like Piriyapatna to our plantation. They collect money from the plantation owners for this service. They collect another Rs 80 to Rs 100 from the labourer too per day,” he said.

“We pay the workers around Rs 400 per day,” he added.

1 August 2020

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