Indian Property Developers Vow To Feed Laborers Amid Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- Property developers across India’s big cities have been asked to ensure their laborers have enough to eat, even though construction may have halted under a government-imposed lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hiranandani Group has organized 15 days of food rations for more than 4,000 laborers across sites. Oberoi Realty Ltd. will continue to pay its staff, and Boman Irani, vice president at the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India, said large contracting companies, such as Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and Shapoorji Pallonji group, have been asked to provide for their workers.
“All developers are trying to look after their laborers as a first priority,” Niranjan Hiranandani, president of the National Real Estate Development Council, said by phone. “We are also sanitizing sites and providing laborers with soaps and sanitizers so that they can protect themselves.”
India’s construction sector is the nation’s biggest job-creator, employing large numbers of workers who are typically paid a daily wage in cash. These laborers often live on the build site during a project, often with their families, and are part of India’s vast informal economy most vulnerable to the shutdown.
Hiranandani said he isn’t yet aware of how specifically developers will pay for this food. India’s government on Monday allowed companies to fight the coronavirus outbreak by dipping into a pool of cash firms are mandated to keep aside for Corporate Social Responsibility spending, but Hiranandani said developers will spend irrespective of any benefits.
Developers expect the work shutdown will hit sales in coming quarters, worsening the outlook for an industry already hit by government policies including the cash ban in 2016, a new goods and services tax, and stricter completion rules. Hiranandani said the sector has sought relief such as the ability to reschedule loan repayments, a one-time rollover for debt restructuring, and deep interest rate cuts.
“I believe there will be a delay in sales. But we don’t deal in perishable commodities so we don’t lose anything,” said Oberoi Realty Chairman Vikas Oberoi. “Purchasing will all come back once all this settles.”
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