Tribune News Service
Shimla, May 22
It is back to “no work” after 50 days of countrywide lockdown as far as tarring and repair of roads are concerned in Shimla and the state as a whole. The reason being that no labour is available as more than 60 per cent workforce has already left for their home states amid the threat of COVID-19.
All summer repair and tarring of roads remain non-functional in the state as 70 per cent of the labour have left the state and there seems little chance of coming back. The labour used to come to the state after Holi from Rajasthan, Bihar and other states.
As a result, commuters will continue to face rough rides on the roads rendered potholed due to snow and rain in the state.
The government’s move to allow construction and road repair activities and its efforts to retain the labourers in the state had borne little fruit, said the contractors.
“More than 60 per cent of the labour has left the city. We do not have skilled labourers and machine operators to start the work here,” said PK Sood, a major contractor in the city.
“Tarring, building and bridge works are least likely to start as not even single labour has come from Rajasthan, Bihar and other states for tarring work. The machine operators and workers from Una, Sirmaur and other places are not being allowed to come here, let alone the movement of labourers from Rajasthan and Bihar,” Sood added.
“We had skilled workers from West Bengal and Bihar, but they applied for a pass to back to their home state and are now gone,” Sood said.
The roads were set to turn from bad to worse as soon as the monsoon season starts. There would be no summer maintenance works this season due to shortage of labour and rains start in Mid-June and there is virtually no time left now, the contractors said.
The president of the HP Contractors’ Association, DK Sharma, said the work started at a few places April 25 in Mandi, Kangra and Chamba, where the contractors had retained the labour.
“We have been urging the state government to allow tarring and road repair works during the lockdown time when roads were empty, but time ran out and workers were emotional about going back to home states,” said the contractors in Shimla.