While most cities in India now boast of metro trains, how many of us have ever taken the trouble to meet or thank a metro worker? Maybe now you will!
In this series, Tejaswi Bhagavatula earlier gave you a glimpse into the lives of a paperboy and a street cleaner. As we continue acknowledging people who make our lives easier every single day without expecting anything in return, here’s your chance to meet the hidden human work force – the metro construction workers who are busy at work while most of us are asleep in our comfortable homes.
India is a developing economy, making great strides in building infrastructure and concrete landmarks that have fueled economic growth like never before. The estimates of the Government show a multi-fold increase in infrastructure investments in the near future. With all this, there is a key player that we’ve forgotten to mention, a player who has always done his part, has always worked for less, but has been the biggest stakeholder – in terms of contribution and actual physical labour. It’s none other than the ground worker, the daily-wager, who has been the foot soldier for India’s infrastructure sector.
The photos you see are of workers at the Hyderabad metro project, which is one of the few projects that despite many challenges, has largely stuck to the time schedule and project plan. The credit is definitely shared but we shouldn’t forget the hours of hard work put in by the real human force – the labourers employed. I was in for a surprise while making this story, when I asked one member of the crew working in one of the pictures to come join me for chai, so that I could make conversation. He said it wasn’t break time, and that he had to stick to schedule!! It was 2.30 AM and we were on a lonely stretch with no supervisors around, yet he stuck to his ground and worked on.
We complain of the roadblocks that these people create for building the metro, and here I was standing and thinking, wow these people actually care about the hurdles they are forced to keep, and are actually working without any supervision or force, to finish work by daybreak so the public won’t have an inconvenience.
The workers have an odd, almost BPO employee work timings, of course without the ACs, plush cabins and cafeterias. As the roads in the city are bustling with traffic during the day, and the metro work involves moving heavy objects and working at great heights, keeping the public safety and convenience in mind, the work on metro is done only after midnight and till day break. The workers assemble their tools, machines and other other items after midnight and start working, and by 5AM they shut shop and pack up. So it’s 5 hours of intensive non-stop working in the night, and as is the case mostly, due to economic constraints, these workers again take up part-time work in the mornings.
The next time you see a worker on the road, be it the water board guy, electrician or the road works guy, don’t frown. India and its infrastructure, however flawed, is expansive, and these guys are working relentlessly and silently for its betterment.