Real estate developers have welcomed the government’s decision to make everyone above 18 years of age to be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 from May 1, saying that it would enable migrant workers, especially construction workers to get vaccinated and help arrest another mass exodus of migrants.
On April 19, the Central government liberalised the vaccination drive to allow states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure the doses directly from manufacturers.
“CREDAI welcomes the government's announcement allowing states to procure COVID vaccine directly from the open market and allowing opening up of vaccination for citizens above 18 from May 1 which is in line with CREDAI’s recommendation. Migrant workers and young population of our country are the backbone of economy and will be happy to take the shot. I hope that we vaccinate at a much faster pace and put the wheels of our economy back on track,” said Harsh Vardhan Patodia, national president, Credai.
Credai has announced it will provide free vaccination to over 2.5 crore construction workers at the sites of its over 13,000 developer members across 217 Indian cities and towns.
Real estate developers have been helping workers with vaccination, food and shelter, and had asked the government to make all construction labourers eligible for the jab to ensure that the pandemic does not disrupt the sector that is India’s biggest employer after agriculture.
Developers wanted this to make sure that migrant workers do not return home because of the pandemic, which has resurged with more than 1.5 lakh cases a day. Lockdowns have triggered fears of another mass exodus of migrant workers.
Realtors have been worried because after last year’s lockdown, 70 percent of migrant workers had returned home of which almost half have returned to their work sites, the Construction Workers Federation of India had estimated.
"We welcome the government's decision to allow vaccination for individuals who are above the age of 18. This will enable developers to vaccinate construction workers and will also help in enhancing their confidence, especially considering other strict safety measures and amenities undertaken at the sites. They are the real nation builders and protecting them and their livelihoods is our prime responsibility," said Deepak Goradia, president of Credai MCHI.
NAREDCO had also recommended that all labourers above 21 years should be vaccinated.
“Across construction sites, safety precautions are being taken, and protocols are being followed. Testing every 15 days is mandatorily being done; the opening up of vaccination for 18 year olds and above will also impact construction site workers in a positive way; the vaccination process will ensure that testing every 15 days will not be needed. Also, it will increase the safety level at construction sites, and will go a long way in ensuring COVID-19 protection at construction sites,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, national president, NAREDCO.
“In a related development, the state governments will be allowed to directly source some quantum of the vaccine directly from the manufacturers; this along with opening up of the vaccination for 18 year olds and above will play a major role in ensuring India achieves herd immunity at the earliest,” he added.
“Reverse migration by migrant labour is a worry across the economy; the safety and security that opening up the vaccination process to all above 18 years will bring across the age groups, including construction labour, will go a long way in ensuring a safe and secure working environment,” he added.
Builders have been ensuring that the second wave of the pandemic does not spark another wave of reverse migration as this may reverse the gains made during the festival season last year. Construction work had touched pre-COVID levels on some sites before the second round of restrictions, they claim.
Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 percent doses to state governments and in the open market.