(Featured Image: Subham Verma)
In todays world, there is hardly any industry which has remained unaffected by the severity of the Novel Coronavirus or the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a slight sigh of relief for some industries which have got adopted with remote working or work from home models. Thanks to infrastructure developments which has almost reduced the problem of physical travelling and shrunk the necessity of physical presence for productive tasks.Construction and Engineering sector which has been facing several challenges since physical presence is inevitable and time is the essence for each activity. Considering large number of blue collar workers in the industry, real estate and related activities has been one of the most affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus infection. In the last one year, the industry has made several strides towards recovery, only to be struck by the pandemic yet again in 2021.
Construction activities are allowed to function in Karnataka.
Construction, manufacturing, agriculture, medical sectors are allowed to operate during this period. Construction has always been considered as an essential service and both central and state governments have been trying its best to boost the industry. Movement of trucks for delivering materials, operation of all retail outlets related to hardware, steel, cement etc are allowed.
Social distancing and covid protocols
Construction activities by default have some amount of social distancing considering the nature of job itself. Wearing a mask has been a new norm for construction labour-force apart from regular social distancing and washing hands frequently with soaps/disinfectants.
By April 2020, the Indian Government declared an extension on the COVID-19 lockdown, and formulated new set of guidelines for resuming construction of shelved developments and commencing new construction activities. Construction work kick-started in a limited manner and the groundwork for full-scale resumption post the lifting of the lockdown was established.
Revised guidelines for Lockdown 2.0 from the home ministry mentioned that fresh construction work could be carried out for the building of roads, renewable energy and irrigation-related activity, and industrial projects outside municipal areas post April 2020. The final authority to allow these constructions, however, rested with the respective district administrations or local authorities.
One of the primary requisites to begin construction work was the availability of workers on-site (In-situ). With this, Government restricted the movement of construction workers between cities and States.
Cost of construction escalated
Reduced demand and supply for labour and materials in the industry has led to escalation of rates for both materials and labor. Cement, steel, and sand which are the core components of construction activity have become more expensive. Big players have reduced or halted some of their projects which will eventually reduce the demand for materials, causing increased rates. Increase in fuel rates by early 2021 has also been one of the components impacting the logistics adding to price hikes of both materials and labor.
Delay in obtaining Approvals and Permissions
Reduced manpower, backlogs of previous applications added to the new ones leading to more delays in obtaining approvals and permissions for house construction, especially in bangalore, karnataka. Departemnets are busy in handling pandemic, being frontline covid warriors of the city immediate focus is obviously on containing further spread and impact on the city. Obtaining building plan approvals, permissions for temporary/permanent electricity connections, water connections etc consumes more time and delay than earlier.
Delay in bank loans
There has been consistent delay in loan processing from the banks considering reduced working hours, lesser staff to work with, and higher emphasis on loan recoveries. Banks have been hesitant to provide loan for self employed in recent times. Loss of a job, pay cuts in their salary, delay in promotion, migration issues are not uncommon these days, for which banks would impose stringent guidelines for loan seekers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has done a lot of damage to society. It has affected the society as well as the economy of every country. The disease is spreading so fast that the government has been forced to induce lockdown. As a result, there’s been a bigger impact on construction Industry especially in material supply, labour availability, obtaining approvals, arranging for funding avenues, execution and completion of a project. However, there’s always a green line, government is always trying to support and boost construction related activities since it accounts to almost 16% of nation’s working capital contributing to 5% of nations GDP. Housing is a basic need will always be a major player of the economy. Lets have caution against the pandemic. Lets stay safe, protect our families and contribute more to the society.