Menards in Chandigarh, a town near New Delhi, has been a popular choice for construction jobs for years.
But now, it’s becoming more difficult.
With a recent shortage of menards, the town has been asked to convert the blocks into apartments.
And if the apartments are going to be a part of a menards’ business, the landlord is expected to pay handsomely for them.
“We have been asking for a two-storey, three-storeys, three floor building for many years, but the builder, as per the law, has to pay Rs 20 lakh for each unit,” said Arun Kumar, a man who has lived in the block for nearly a decade.
“The man who owns the land has not paid me Rs 20,000.”
Kumar, who is also a farmer, said he was reluctant to move out of the block as the construction work could not be completed without his input.
“It’s not just the block.
If we leave, we are making it impossible for the workers to work,” he said.
The city has faced a shortage of construction materials, particularly iron.
The National Green Tribunal had earlier ordered the Chandigars to build four-storeydalh houses at a cost of Rs 5 crore, which they have not yet done.
However, according to the Centre for Sustainable Development, a non-profit organisation, Chandigari is the second-biggest producer of iron in the country, accounting for 12 per cent of India’s total supply.
The issue of labour is also becoming a hot issue.
The Delhi government has been encouraging construction companies to hire contractors from the private sector.
But, it has also asked them to provide wages at least in proportion to the cost of construction.
The men who work in Chandigs yards say they will take this step if they have to.
“We don’t want to lose our jobs, but we will not do this to save them,” said P.V. Kumar, who owns an engineering firm in the nearby area.
The shortage of women’s labour has been the cause of a spate of suicides and assaults, many of them involving young men.
“Many young men are not happy with the way they are being treated and it is the reason why they are taking their lives,” said M.R. Mishra, chairman of the Chandigs Men’s Forum.
Mishra said he and his colleagues had written to the state government to make it clear that if they were to ask for more women, they would have to pay the extra cost for them to be employed in the construction industry.
“They are not asking for more but more.”