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

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.