NOIDA: Amid apprehension of a third wave of the pandemic, Noida’s entrepreneurs have flagged the need for a permanent low-cost housing solution for the city’s migrant workers.
They claim that the unavailability of cheap housing and inadequate medical facilities are the two reasons why migrant workers are forced to leave the city in times of a crisis.
With a new airport coming up in Jewar and possibly more workforce likely to arrive, housing and health are the two infrastructure support that the district needs to bolster, the Indian Industries Association (IIA) has said, urging the state government to construct hostel-styled low-cost accommodation for migrant workers.
Kulmani Gupta, senior member of IIA, said, “Migrant workers usually come for a season or two, work and go back. But during the pandemic we have seen that steep rents became a hindrance for retaining the workforce in the city. We have lost months of work over the past one year because of a lack of workers. Gautam Budh Nagar is an industrial district and housing infrastructure to support the industry is needed.”
Noida and Greater Noida have around 10 lakh registered workers, though the unofficial figures could be higher. The small-scale industries have been badly hit due to the shortage of workers during the two waves of the pandemic, with a majority of them leaving for their home states or districts. There are around 10,000 manufacturing units in the twin cities.
“Every time there is a crisis, migrant workers are forced to leave because they can’t afford to stay on rent. Hostels should be built in the vicinity of industries and shared rooms can be let out at affordable rates. This will reduce illegal construction in the city and streamline mass housing needs. We have sent this proposal to the state government,” Gupta said.
Besides housing, industrialists have also flagged the need to enhance the medical facilities for the workers.
“The ESIC hospitals and dispensaries are inadequate to meet the needs of the workers. Each visit leads to a full day’s wage cut because it takes hours to get a consultation. The workers contribute around Rs 400 per month, which is Rs 4,800 for ESIC each year, but the service they receive is poor. The ESIC system in Gautam Budh Nagar needs to be bolstered fast,” Gupta added.
When contacted, Anil Sharma, regional manager of Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Authority, told TOI, “The access areas, the way patients are treated and the sheer helplessness they feel when they need medical attention is deplorable. There are around 15 lakh ESIC card holders in Gautam Budh Nagar. But the hospitals are not equipped to cater to their demands. Workers’ health can’t be compromised.”
However, Pawan Kumar, north zone chief of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, said, “For industry to work, residence of workers in close proximity is imperative. Industrial bodies in NCR should implement this to check future crises.”