North Indians are under attack in Mumbai, but in Bangalore they are the lifeblood of the construction industry. SANJANA from Tehelka visits the camps they are stuffed in

There is nothing to look forward to at home even though I own two acres of land. No rain means no work. My daughter had to be married off. My parents are old and sick.
Ganesh Ram, Begusarai, Bihar

I work all the time here. Some Sundays, I just want to sleep and forget about the work, the dust... If I could escape, I would. But where is the money?
Abhilash Toto, Rajganj, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

AMID THE construction din that has engulfed Bangalore, desperate voices such as these are drowned out. The city’s property and infrastructure development is in the midst of a very visible boom. Flyovers, IT parks, residential and commercial projects are coming up in a frenzy. Some real estate industry watchers peg the current investment in Bangalore at Rs 12,000 crore with over 1.5 lakh apartments under construction. Others say this is a conservative estimate.

India is currently looking at creating local Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). REITs are like mutual funds and, if approved by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), will translate into skyrocketing foreign investments into real estate development. Bangalore is expected to account for at least 30 percent of the $50 billion dollar plus foreign investment that is awaiting a nod from SEBI.

This high “investor confidence” and boom in construction industries in Bangalore and other cities in Karnataka is being sustained by almost 15 lakh migrant workers from places as far as UP, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Construction companies no longer turn to workers from Karnataka; they specifically ask contractors to employ labourers from these states because they work “harder”.

Escaping from poverty and disease at home, these workers are sucked into a labour economy that is characterised by exploitative labour practices, unsafe working environments, inhuman living conditions with little access to basic amenities and almost complete social exclusion. Their story is a parable for other migrant workers across the country...........................
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