Construction workers say closure of sand quarries will hit them badly
Several members of Construction Workers’ Federation of India (CWFI), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), staged an attention-seeking demonstration near Arasamaram bus stop here on Wednesday pressing for their various demands.
R. Russell, State secretary, CITU, who took part in the agitation, said non-availability of sand, the key material for construction, had rendered scores of construction workers jobless and they were struggling to make both ends meet. It was essential to protect natural resources, but at the same time the plight of construction workers, who had lost their livelihood activity after restrictions on river sand mining were imposed, should also be considered.
He said sand mining using heavy machinery should not be allowed. To protect construction industry and safeguard the interests of construction workers, the State government should go on appeal against the Madras High Court order to close sand quarries in six months and produce manufactured sand (M-sand) to meet the growing demands of the construction industry.
Mr. Russell said based on infrastructure building plans, required amount of sand could be distributed to the needy by setting up taluk-level godowns. Law enforcement agencies should initiate stringent action against those involved in sand smuggling.
He also wanted the government to compensate the construction workers during rainy season and stressed the need for exempting construction materials from Goods and Services Tax (GST) net.
He further demanded that pension for the construction workers should be increased to Rs. 4,000, and it should be disbursed to men after they attained 60 years of age and to women once they turned 55. Mr. Russell demanded that the government provide relief of Rs. 5 lakh to every accident victim from the construction industry.
K. Arumugam, town secretary, CWFI, led the agitation