Rajouri, Feb 17: The lives of hundreds of workers engaged on the upgradation of Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch National Highway is at risk as they have not been provided with necessary safety material and are working in unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
Various contractors have engaged hundreds of workers to work on different phases of this project.
Upgradation of Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch National Highway is a prestigious project as it not only provides main road connectivity to Rajouri and Poonch districts with Jammu but also strategically important surface connectivity for the movement of convoys of security forces, especially towards the Line of Control (LoC).
The work for the upgradation of the Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch National Highway was started last year and is divided into different phases between Akhnoor and Poonch and work on all the phases from Akhnoor to Poonch that also include construction of tunnels is going on.
The work is going on in double shifts so that the deadline for the completion of this project could be met.
The work between Nowshera and Manjakote in Rajouri district is going on at full pace and even the construction of the Rajal Tunnel near Nowshera bridge has also been kick-started.
However, the contractors and different construction agencies of international repute that have been allotted tenders of different phases are not taking care of workers safety, putting their lives at risk.
Hundreds of workers engaged in work are primarily carrying the task of construction of sidewalls at identified places.
Almost all the workers can be seen working without necessary safety equipment that primarily includes helmets, facemasks, and light reflective jackets.
“Most of the workers are busy in the construction of safety walls in areas having high rocks and clay bumps with risk of shooting stone and clay slides always looms large in such areas but no workers are seen wearing a safety helmet,” said Sheraz Ahmed, a local man from Rajouri.
Another local Muhammad Umar talked about the unhealthy conditions in which these labourers were working and said that the places where they work have heavy dust presence with regular movement of vehicles further escalating the problem of dust.
He said that these poor labourers are made to work without facemasks.
“One can imagine the poor state of health of a labourer who works for over 10 hours in severe dusty conditions,” Umar said.
He also talked about the unavailability of light reflective jackets that are mandatory for working at night and said that hardly a few labourers are seen wearing these jackets and yet made to work in night hours.
Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Vikas Kundal told Greater Kashmir that the matter would be examined and the Labour Commission’s office at Rajouri had been asked to verify the report.