Construction in Pune…a pictorial.

Modern Construction at

When I think about Construction, I envision the Construction sites I was used to seeing when growing up in America.

Men in hard hats, reflective vests, dungaree’s and their steel toe boots climbing around on rebar platforms carrying a load of tools or operating machinery to bring up large loads of material.

But then I moved to India and that perception changed.  Most construction sites in my area are as unlike this visualization as they can be.

Poor migrant workers actually live on the construction site with the entire family.  Including their wives who also work by their husband’s side and their children who use the construction site as their own personal play ground.

Recently, I took some photographs with my little (and ancient) handheld Fujifilm just so I could give you a quick look at a fairly typical construction site here in Pune India.


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


Note that there is bamboo where I’m used to seeing rebar.  Also, not a helmet in sight.  Also, the children playing in the gravel. ::shudder::


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


A workers child runs off with his Kaka’s shoes.  Another (and much smaller) child attired after his Aunty’s spent 20 minutes chasing him around the site after a bath and he was too happy being buck-naked to care.

Still no helmets, vests, or steel toed shoes.  Actually, most of them either wear sandals or nothing at all.  I can barely stand to walk across rough sand….how do they do it??


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


Way up high and still no helmets, a few had no shoes.  Also, they are doing some seriously hard work up there with no protective clothing or gloves.


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


And THIS is how the construction materials are sent up to the workers on the top floor.  Sometimes the lift doesn’t work and it’s pulled up by hand.  Notice the use of bamboo instead of rebar for both the shaft and to support the newly constructed concrete floors.


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


Just in case someone falls, they have nets.  ::shudder::


by Gori Rajkumari from an ancient Fujifilm Pocket Camera.


OOPS!  There’s a whole there fella’s!  I watch this hole over the course of 3 months and it kept getting bigger.  Then one day I watched them patch over it with concrete siding.  All fixed….I guess.

So, what is the moral of this story?  I don’t really know.  Forcing the Builders and Developers to have better equipment and safety standards for their workers doesn’t really mean anything if there is no ‘bite’ to those who are offenders.

India has a long way to come with regards to protecting her workers.


14 thoughts on “Construction in Pune…a pictorial.

  1. I visited some very wealthy people in the Mumbai area on our last visit. When I saw their penthouse, I was sure that staying in the US must be like camping for them. The view from their penthouse, however, was of a hap-hazard village of construction workers. I felt very awkward being in their house because their maid was actually one of the children of the construction workers. She was about eight. It was the strangest intersection of extreme wealth and extreme poverty that I’ve experienced on my trips. (Usually, I just spend time with middle-class people in mostly middle-class areas).

  2. I distinctly remember the feelings I had upon seeing women and children working as laborers on construction sites and quarries in India. What a hard, hard life.

    I also remember walking by construction sites and watching debris like wood or rocks tumble down to the ground with no care for who was below.

    That’s interesting to read Anuj’s comment that construction workers come from nomadic castes. I do recall noticing that some of the construction workers were wearing ghaagra choli and Rajasthani type ‘tribal’ jewelry. I thought to myself at the time that they might be banjaaray. I suppose for a variety of intersecting reasons these types of people end up occupying the field of construction work as mazdoors.

    • Yes, they are known as “banjara’s”. They identify their native village in the state of karnataka but they are not kannadigas. The women dress somewhat like gujarati / rajasthani tribals. They speak a language called “banjara”.

      However, do not generalise the banjara people in a single economic strata. Banjaras occupy posts in almost all fields; doctors, chartered accountants etc etc. The middle/high-class banjaras dress like common indians and you will mistake them for maharashtrians as they are able to speak VERY fluent marathi.

  3. Yup. It’s pretty rough, being a construction worker in India.

    I’ve often wondered about these things myself.

    Still, the situation is better now than it used to be some years ago. Now, there is some automation, some use of personal protective devices, some safety-norms, etc.
    But, on the whole, the poor construction workers toil in appalling, unsafe conditions to build flats for the idle rich, earning very little by way of wages. And, they don’t have any 401 K, any social-security, any hea;th-insuance. any mediclaim, etc. They just keep toiling till they are physically able to, then they die.

    This has to do with rich construction companies exploiting the poverty of people, but it has nothing to do with cast, as some other reader seems to mistakenly think so. It just so happens that some people from the state of Karnataka have developed traditional expertise in the field of construction, so they are much sought after by construction-companies.

  4. Well, I live in America and I have a gas stove with the flame! I guess it depends on your area whether you have gas or electric.

    The pictures look exactly like the construction outside my hotel in Bangalore, like it could be exactly the same site!

  5. Hi .gori rajkumari ,
    My wife was taken aback by these sights the first time we visited India. Most of the laborers tend to be of the lower castes and have no way out of this cycle. They have a passive acceptance of their lot in life because of the structural rigidity of the caste system. And even if they want to get out of it, it is an uphill struggle to gain acceptance. I really feel for the older laborers when I see them struggling to keep up. Life in India is lived raw, with starting contradictions living side by side. Right next to the laborers huts/shacks, one can often find the skyscrapers of the rich.

    • Your observation is correct in some sense. The labour job is usually done by few families of nomadic castes. They change residence from job site to job site. The entire family in engaged in this line of work and they consider it as family business. Many of them have unions and their castes actually hold monopoly in this line of work. These labourers do not register themselves with any employment agency. You have to contact one of them and he’ll bring the rest.

  6. This makes me so sad. Us Indians have terrible safety standards and worse safety regulations. A lot of times, Mint and I talk about it and we think Indians do not value human life enough.

    Even if the Government imposes some law on the use of helmets, it would most probably not be adhered to. The officials will be bribed and the matter will be taken care of. Perhaps it all boils down to how corrupt the country is 😦

    To be honest on the other hand, I think people here in America are a little too paranoid when it comes to safety. For example, we can only have electric plates on the stove, because people are so worried about the fire hazards that come with the use of a flame. I think that is being too extreme again.

    I often wish the both the countries would not lie on such extreme ends on the safety scales. I’ve even written a post about this on my blog..

    • Really? America only has electric stoves?? I did not know that. I’m from Canada and I have a gas stove… I’ve lived in rental apartments that only have electric and I used to burn a lot of things. LOL I couldn’t imagine not being able to have a gas stove in my home.

  7. Im in construction. We import modern scaffolding equipments from europe to india. The capital cost of purchase is very high for indian companies and only the top notch construction companies in metro areas can afford to buy it. But since the companies want technical support all the time, they want them on rental basis. The monthly cost of rent is almost equivalent to cost of the bamboo system of construction. The companies have to convince the labourers to adopt the new system since they are more comfortable with bamboos. Quite a few actually refuse out of fear.

    Non-metro construction companies are happy with their old system. At most, they build 6-7 stores high building. In urban, were 25+ storey buildings are becoming increasingly common, they are more willing to try new equipment.

    • There is no concept of community college where they offer any construction related courses. These laborers’ knowlede remains basic all through and are comfortable with what they do.
      I think it should be State govt that should make rules and guidelines for Construction industry to supply advanced tools.

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