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On Indian workers deaths, Qatar says some progress in reforms, long journey ahead

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the Qatari official organisation in charge of delivering the World Cup, has acknowledged that a total of 40 migrant workers from across the world have lost their lives in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup in 2010. Out of these, it classified only three as work-related.

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Responding to a questionnaire emailed by The Indian Express flagging details of Indian migrant workers who died in Qatar while working on projects or in jobs linked to the World Cup, the Committee said: “We acknowledge that there remains a long journey ahead, and we are committed — with our partners in Qatar and beyond — to ensuring that we continue to deliver the legacy we promised. A legacy that improves lives and lays the foundation for fair, sustainable, and lasting labour reforms.”

The Committee, established by Qatar in 2011 and responsible for overseeing all construction and infrastructure projects for the World Cup, claimed there were “significant improvements in accommodation standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, healthcare provision, and reimbursements of illegal recruitment fees to workers”.

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At the same time, it said, there is “room for improvement”. “We recognise there is always room for improvement and work with global industry experts — including Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) — to continually enhance the SC’s Workers’ Welfare Standards, first introduced in 2014, and ultimately improve the lives of every worker contributing to our projects,” the Committee said.

A labour recruitment drive in Metpally, Jagtial district, Telangana. Around 200 people were interviewed for a job of cleaner at buildings to accommodate World Cup visitors.

The Committee said it is “committed to a policy of openness, transparency and engagement with the international community, including (but not limited to) Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International”.

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“This is evidenced through our partnership with a global trade union confederate (BWI) for its affiliates to regularly inspect our sites and preside over Worker Welfare Forum elections. It is further supported through regular auditing and review by independent monitors (Impactt), resulting in an annual public report,” it said.

Workers remove bodies burried under debris at the construction site where Akhilesh Kumar and Surukanti Jagan died

In its questionnaire, The Indian Express had asked the Committee about the process it followed to register the death of a migrant worker, the number of workers who had died in Qatar over the last decade and the reasons for men of working age dying of “natural causes”. The Committee’s reply was silent on the issue of compensation and whether the cause of these deaths would be analysed.

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However, it said the impact of Qatar’s “groundbreaking labour reforms must be acknowledged”. “The impact of the SC’s work in contributing to, and accelerating Qatar’s recent, groundbreaking labour reforms, and the significant progress implemented and recognised internationally — by both our partners and critics — must be acknowledged,” it said.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

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