Skip to main content

Gujarat construction workers' "welfare"? Rs 909 crore lying 'idle' since 2006, just nine of 600 paid death compensation

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has admitted that the state has so far failed to make any progress towards providing basic welfare facilities to an estimated 20 lakh construction workers, despite the fact that the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, which was activated in the state in 2006. Addressing a well-attended workshop on construction workers, a senior state official admitted, “huge cess fund” has been collected by the state government for the welfare of the construction workers, but all of it has remained unused.
Gujarat Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (GBOCWWB) chairman Dr Anil Patel told the participants that a major reason why the cess – Rs 909 crore – remains unutilized with the board is there was “failure” to go ahead with the plans to register construction workers with the board because of “technical reasons.” He claimed, now the problem has been “identified” and the campaign to register the construction workers has finally begun.
The admission came even as Vipul Pandya of Bhandkam Mazdur Sangathan (BMS) revealed, quoting official figures, that of the Rs 909 crore collected as cess and lying with the GBOCWWB for construction workers’ welfare since 2006, just about Rs 9 crore has been spent. This year, he added, another Rs 346 crore would be added to the fund.
“One of the major components of the welfare fund is compensation against accidental death amounting to Rs 2 lakh. As against 600 accidental deaths that have taken place across Gujarat since 2008, just nine have so far been paid the compensation. We believe the amount is quite small, and it should be increased to Rs 4 lakh”, he said.
Attended by different stakeholders -- trade union and NGO representatives, builder’ and construction association representatives, and the state government’s labour department officials -- an analysis of the data at the workshop said, 46 per cent of the deaths the construction workers fell down from the top of the site, 19 per cent because wall collapsed or the earth caved in, 17 per cent because of an object fell on the worker, and seven per cent because of electric shock.
Patel, who called himself “new to the subject”, saying is more an “intern” trying to understand the construction workers’ problems, said, the accidents at construction sites were four to five times those of other industrial accidents. However, he sought to blame it on workers: “Construction workers working at sites of such renowned builders like Larsen & Toubro or Bakeri are known to do give safety instruments. But I have noticed that many of them rarely wear them”.
Source RTI. Incomplete figures as several cities
did not provide any information
Participants said, officials blame failure to pay compensation on workers not being registered with the GBOCWWB. Blaming this on a highly indifferent government bureaucracy, they added, the law to collect cess came into force in 2006, and till 2008, just about 600 workers were registered. Thereafter, the trade unions were given the powers to register workers. 
“As a result, 40,000 forms were filled up, of which 20,000 were registered. Then, suddenly, the powers from the trade unions were taken away, and the registration process came to a standstill. The workers registered were deregistered, as it is valid for just three years”, they pointed out.
“The process of registering workers again began in December 2014. According to our estimate, 70,000 have filled up necessary forms out of a total of 20 lakh construction workers. Of these nearly 30 per cent have so far been registered”, Pandya said.
Others added, the problem has become complicated because of “frequent changes brought about by the Gujarat government in its forms. “If a worker fills up a self-certified form as a construction worker as required, the labour office often doesn’t accept it saying it is not in proper format. Where would the workers – 70 per cent of whom are from outside Gujarat and the rest are mainly state adivasis – go in such a situation?”
According to the law, once the worker is registered, apart from the benefit of Rs 2 lakh on accidental death, she or he is entitled to several benefits on getting a Red Book, including cheap ration from the fair price shop, free medical aid, money to educate children, and maternity benefit of Rs 3,000 to women.
Jayanthi Ravi, state labour commissioner, who wound up the workshop, said the format of the form has again being changed to an electronic card with a bar code, which NGOs and trade unionists objected, saying, the Red Book would be “much better” as here the workers knew what all benefits they have received and are going to receive.

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.