They claimed while 40% of the labourers employed in construction projects had left for their villages, 15% of factory workers were not reporting for work of late. “In March, there were around 1.3 lakh construction workers in Noida. In just a couple of days, their numbers have reduced quite a lot. Projects where construction is going on have 60% of the workers left now. All Covid safety protocols are being followed there,” said Amit Modi, vice-president of Credai (western UP).
Ajay Goel, president of the Noida SEZ welfare association, also said there were 10-15% fewer workers now.
These are rough estimates, but travel agents in the city have also reported a rising number of bookings for districts in eastern UP and Bihar. Administrative officials have, however, said that many of the workers had been leaving for their hometowns because of the harvesting season, which coincides with festivals like Ram Navami and Eid. Moreover, panchayat polls are in progress in UP, and many workers are believed to have gone home to vote.
Although it has not assumed proportions of an exodus yet, the exit of workers is bound to hit the construction sector and factories hard. Work had just started to gain momentum over the past few months after taking a massive beating during the lockdown last year. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said recently that there are no plans to impose a lockdown as yet. However, an 8pm-7am curfew has been imposed in Noida.
There are over 1 lakh flats under construction in Noida and Greater Noida currently. After the lockdown last year, UP-RERA had given a six-month extension to the projects where construction had begun. “The builders are already hard-pressed with deadlines. Most of them were already operating with lean staff, but there is more pressure now with this fresh exit of labourers,” Modi said.
Noida has around 9,000 SME units, of which around 8,000 have become optimally operational over the last five-six months.