Work allowed in corona-free areas; builders say hike in cement prices the biggest challenge.
The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has allowed work to resume at 60 construction sites, provided workers reside on the premises and social distancing norms are followed, CEO VS Kundu has told Moneycontrol.
The permission comes after the Centre on April 20 allowed easing of lockdown restrictions so that some business activity can resume to alleviate the pain caused by the coronavirus. The final decision, however, has been left to the states.
“Around 60 sites have been given permission to restart construction in Gurgaon. The chief consideration was that labour should be staying on the premises and they should not be transported,” Kundu, who is also additional chief secretary of Haryana, said.
Permissions have been granted to construction sites in all zones except for those within the containment areas, which are neighbourhoods that have reported coronavirus cases.
Since contractors would be held responsible for violation of social distancing norms, many were in the process of preparing the sites to accommodate the labour before seeking permissions or resuming work, Kundu said.
To check the spread of the virus, which is transmitted through droplets of cough or sneeze, people are advised to maintain physical distance and avoid social interaction.
There are around 300 residential projects in the works in Gurgaon, which is a tech hub that has also grown into a vibrant real estate market.
Haryana, of which Gurgaon is a part, has reported 308 coronavirus cases. India has, so far, reported 31,332 infections and at least 1,007 deaths, the health ministry has said.
Parveen Jain, vice chairman, Naredco and CMD, Tulip Infratech Pvt Ltd, told Moneycontrol his firm received GMDA’s permissions to restart work at three sites.
“As many as 500 labourers are currently residing across the three sites. The biggest challenge is to retain them once the lockdown is lifted. We had a total of 800 before the pandemic broke out,” Jain said.
Jain said cement was proving to be a big challenge. “It (a bag of cement) is currently retailing at Rs 350 per bag. We have requested the government to step in and resolve the matter,” he said, adding there should be no supply chain hindrances or it would lead to another six months of delay.
Before the lockdown, a bag of 50-kg cement cost Rs 180.
Signature Global Group has been allowed to resume 10 projects, said chairman Pradeep Aggarwal, who is also the chairman of ASSOCHAM National Council on Real Estate, Housing and Urban Development.
“We hope to receive permissions to restart work on the remaining seven projects within a week,” Aggarwal said.
The company has close to 2,500 labourers on site. “All social distancing norms are being followed and sanitisation processes are in place. Only 50 percent of the workforce is allowed at any given point,” he said.
Aggarwal wants the government to declare a one-year zero period and halve the goods and services tax on raw material.
“The technical hike in cement prices is the biggest challenge. Affordable housing may become unviable if raw material prices were to hit the roof during the lockdown phase,” Aggarwal said.