I am about to head to work at 7 AM when a huge Borewell truck turns up near the house. It was what we had been dreading since the owners of the site across the road turned up to do their Bhoomi-pooje. I hastily close the windows of my room, pull in everything that can be taken in from the premises and leave. I arrive in the evening to a fine coat of film all over the house. Apparently, closing the windows wasn’t enough. When you have a borewell spewing out fine dust 20ft from your house nothing stands in the way. They refused to put a tarpaulin cover – that’s only reserved for next-door neighbours. They did not offer to wash the house and after much haranguing cleaned the outdoors. It took 2 days of vacuuming to remove the traces from inside the house. But then we were only scratching the surface as the ‘construction season’ began, sometime in the second half of 2012.
I can only call it construction season as I haven’t seen so much construction activity in my erstwhile quiet residential layout before. Almost every road that leads up to my house had (and still has) some construction going on. Closest, we have two constructions going on, one to the right and one opposite.
There’s something about constructions where the builders take the peace of mind of neighbors for granted. But then it’s mostly to do with having construction workers, trucks all around your house and they don’t have to care about your peace of mind or your livability in your own house plummeting. After all, they aren’t going to be living in your neighborhood.
Among other things, the construction season has meant the following:
1. Being woken up at 5:30 AM by a sand lorry depositing sand and the driver playing his music loud enough for him to hear outside. We took the phone number of the owner and promised to call him at any ungodly times construction work goes on.
2. Reaching home when out in one’s car becomes a bit of a lottery depending on which construction site decides to mix concrete or has a lorry depositing stones or sand. Once have tried 3 roads before the 4th parallel one could get me home. You also have to contend with cars parked on the road as if no one will ever pass through.
3. Having iron rods straightened and cut right in front of the house. After much complaints and shouting at the construction workers they shifted it to front of the neighbor’s house. Also a fact that most people don’t raise an eyebrow even if dynamites are being blown in front of their house.
4. Construction material taking half the road. Construction workers the other half. After much complaining from everyone, this time neighbors joined in as they couldn’t get out, some part of the road was restored.
5. Construction workers building their quarters on the road. Coupled with construction activity the road is pretty much unusable now.
6. Construction workers living all around you. This has multiple consequences
- Constant blare of music in the evening.
- Being privy to all their feuds and quarrels.
- Children always screaming or crying.
- They don’t have any sanitation yet. So it is always the space behind their makeshift quarters even if that’s the road and right next to the neighbor’s kitchen. When the temperature rises, so does the stink.
- The moment you walk out of the door, all activity ceases and you are the centre of their undivided attention.
7. Weekends are usually gone. There is always some activity, like stone cutting that goes on. Stone-cutting for some reason is never done in the warehouse, but at the construction site. To shift power costs to the buyer?
8. Presence of trucks getting parked at unnatural angles. and having to get there. Sometimes it has meant not being able to get the car out at all. Asking the workers to move it doesn’t help. Not their construction after all.
9. Random borewells going off all over the area. Apparently the recent BWSSB decision means that people now need to pay Rs. 50 to apply for a borewell connection and then start boring. Yes, apply and bore, without waiting for the approval. But then, the topic of borewells deserves a whole new post by itself.
Of course, there are no easy solutions when constructing in a 30X40 site, but I do expect some empathy from the owners and some obvious solutions.
1. Following the High Court order can be a good place to start. No construction work between 6 PM and 8 AM.
2. No construction work on Sundays.
3. Things like stone-cutting can be done at the warehouse and brought in. Not a huge thing to ask. I know people who have got that done.
4. Avoid placing a huge posse of construction workers at the site. The watchman should and his family should be enough.
Hopefully owners should realize that they cannot just stress out their neighbors and then walk in as if nothing happened when construction is over. Too much to ask?