Covid-19 is having a massive impact on the construction sector, though activity likely to resume based on various government orders and guidelines.
Considering the fear factor associated with the spread of the virus in major cities and its satellite areas, labours on construction sites in cities have been and are moving back to their native places, hence the construction industry in major cities will be facing acute shortage of labour. As the government has allowed construction on rural development projects like Prime Minister-Awas Yojana (Rural), Economic Welfare Scheme and projects under MNREGA, job opportunities have continued for rural labour, including the migrant labour force who are rushing back to their native places.
This step will not help real estate projects in big cities and will have impact on construction, especially Real Estate works, the ongoing projects in cities may see a delay of 3 - 4 months. Also, supply chain of materials has been severely disrupted for material manufacturing and procurement with the industries working at 30% of the capacities.
To get back the labour force, some short-term measures can be taken to mitigate their problems that include giving increased wages, food and accommodation facilities. Also, providing medical insurance with adequate coverage to every labour and providing safety consumables like PPE, Regular Sanitisation, etc. could ensure a sense of security in them. However, implementation of these measures will lead to an increase in the construction cost of the project.
The availability of adequate work force has been an issue that the construction industry has been facing for long now. The long-term measures for construction project to overcome this problem is to make a measured transition from conventional method of construction to more mechanized methods such as Precast Structures, Steel structure, Dry Wall systems, etc. which are less labour intensive. The manufacturing units for such systems may be set-up in rural/tier 3 area, where availability of material and labour is easy and competent pricing may be achieved, subject to overcoming the logistical issues.
It is the time that Construction Industry progressively explores and develops building automation in process of construction and resource management to maximize pace, quality and sustainability.