Panel discovers 43 workers killed building Delhi Commonwealth Games facilities

Thursday, 18 March 2010

March 18 - At least 43 workers have been killed building venues for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi because of dangerous construction sites and a lack of proper safety equipment , a court-appointed panel has discovered.

India's Games organising committee stepped up the pace of work at the venues for athletics, swimming, weightlifting and some other events after Commonwealth Games officials warned the slow pace of construction and repeatedly missed deadlines threatened the event.

According to the Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted by the committee, 41 of 43 deaths were reported on construction sites within the jurisdiction of the Union Labour Ministry.

The other two deaths were reported on sites under the Delhi Government’s jurisdiction.

The amount of deaths bears unfavourable comparisons with the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

It was reported that 14 construction workers were killed during the build-up to the Athens Games in 2004 and at least 10 died
working on the Bird's Nest Stadium, although the figures may have been much higher because there were never any official figures.

By comparison, one worker died during the building work for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

There have so far been no deaths linked to London 2012.

The Indian monitoring panel, which was led by Arundhati Ghose, a former representative of the United Nations and a Labour Secretary of the Delhi Government, filed a report to the New Delhi High Court that revealed  nearly 415,000 contract workers at construction sites related to the event were not being paid adequately by private contractors and were forced to work overtime for no extra money.

Conditions at the construction sites were poor and many accidents went unreported, while workers continued to work without proper safety gear, the report said.

The report said: "The ground level reality [as opposed to statutory requirement] is different and rather tragic.

"Accidents are taking place, causing injury resulting in death or disablement... work places are extremely unclean, unhygienic and unsafe.

"Safety appliances, conforming to national standards, have either not been issued or [are] not being used."

The court appointed the committee in January in response to allegations that the workers were living in crowded hovels with no protection from the winter elements, no electricity and filthy toilets.

The report recommended the workers be given proper wages, days off and hygienic living conditions.

It also suggested strong monitoring at the work sites to ensure no contractor or employer breached labour laws.

There was no comment for the Delhi organising committee.

Related stories
January 2010:
Labourer killed at New Delhi Commonwealth Games Village
December 2009: Commonwealth Games rugby sevens venue in Delhi catches fire
December 2009: Safety will not be compromised promises Gill
August 2009: Commonwealth Games work blamed for increase in Delhi crashes
July 2009: Worker on Commonwealth Games Stadium killed

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