The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to register the 17,000-odd labourers working on Commonwealth Games projects and provide them all facilities under labour laws concerned.A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also directed the government to constitute a four-member committee to look into registration of workers. This would entitle them rights such as insurance cover, issuance of minimum wages and pay slips, medical facilities, electricity, and clean drinking water among others.The committee will comprise a labour commissioner, labour secretary, a former UN ambassador and a person associated with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The committee has been directed to hold its first meeting on Monday — chalk out its plan of action and inform the court.The court’s directives came while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the NGO People’s Union For Democratic Rights, which based its contentions on two surveys that found these workers live in dangerous and deplorable conditions with no access to basic sanitation and health facilities. The NGO also contended these labourers are paid lower than the stipulated wage.
Appearing for the NGO, senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves requested the Bench that the government must provide wages to them under provisions of the Contract Labour Act and that workers should be issued proper identity cards along with hygienic conditions in camps, regular supply of power and water among other basic facilities.The NGO’s petition was against the Sports Authority of India and agencies in charge of construction of Games projects — Delhi Development Authority, Central Public Works Department, New Delhi Municipal Council, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
“You are in too much of haste,” the Bench told government counsel Najmi Waziri. “We are not disputing that preparations have to be done for the Games at appropriate time but in the process we cannot allow workers’ rights to get affected. You must ensure all workers are registered.”The court has sought a report by March 17.