Skip to main content

Gujarat officials: Under Modi, govt "did nothing" for construction workers' welfare; 7 of 731 deaths compensated

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, officials of the Gujarat government have told an NGO-sponsored workshop in Ahmedabad that during Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister, the state officialdom did “virtually nothing” in addressing the plight of the construction workers. The workshop was organized on the occasion of the International Workers Memorial Day, which is observed on April 28.
Organized by Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan (BMS), a voluntary organization working among construction workers, who are mainly migrants from the tribal areas, senior officials of the state’s main agency responsible for their welfare, Gujarat Building and Other Construction Workers’ Board, said the board remained on paper for nearly a decade.
“Only after I took over as board chairman in November 2014 that things began moving”, declared board chairman Dr Anil Patel, a BJP leader, adding, “Not only has the board become fully functional, but it has implemented a large number of schemes. There is a full-time member-secretary and staff.”
“We have launched massive campaigns to register construction workers so that they could benefit from different government schemes. Recently it launched mobile medical check-up programme at different working sites through the Dhanvantary Aarogya Rath, inaugurated by chief minister Anandiben Patel”, Patel said.
Referring to the Building and Other Construction Workers Act (BOCW), 1996, a senior official of the board, HS Patel said, “While the state government moved to implement the Act in 2003 by coming up with its rules, till 2014, the board was virtually on paper. There was, of course, a board chairman, but he had no staff. There was nobody to see whether the Act was being implemented.”
The workshop was told by BMS’ Vipul Pandya that data obtained from the right to information (RTI) Act suggest that as many as 731 deaths of workers at construction sites have taken place, yet, because of the strange rules that only registered construction workers could get compensation, “just about seven of them could avail of it.”
The board chairman said, while the state agency he heads was doing all it could to ensure that the workers got all types of compensation and benefits they are entitled to, “Our hands are tied. Everything has to be done within the framework of the law. It is quite another thing that we have tried to simplify the interpretation of the law by making it simple.”
BMS activist Pandya agreed that, after Dr Patel took over, the process of registration, which was virtually at a standstill, has picked up in a big way. “Today, out of 11.26 lakh construction workers in Gujarat, a National Sample Survey (NSS) figure, 2.15 lakh of them have been registered, which is 19 per cent of the total.”
The figures provided for other states show that Madhya Pradesh’s 85 per cent, West Bengal’s 100 per cent, Tamil Nadu’s 60 per cent, Uttar Pradesh’s 30 per cent, Kerala’s 77 per cent, Andhra Pradesh’s 51 per cent, Odisha’s 63 per cent, Karnataka’s 67 per cent, Punjab’s 60 per cent, Bihar’s 27 per cent, Haryana’s 39 per cent, and Jharkhand’s 26 per cent workers have been registered to get benefits under the Act.
Pandya said, “Huge sums Rs 1236.58 crore have been collected as welfare cess under the Act. “In the last financial year, Gujarat government had allotted Rs.346 crore to the board for implementation of various social security and welfare schemes. However, it spent only Rs 12.58 crore. It suggests that there is a huge gap between the workers’ enrolment and the amount received by them as compensation.”
“Despite efforts by the board, less than two per cent of the welfare funds have been been utilized due to lack of awareness and willingness at all levels”, he alleged, adding, “The construction industry worldwide is known as an accident prone industry. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), globally, 17 per cent of all work related fatalities happen in the construction sector.”

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.”

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.

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%.

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.