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No list? Gujarat govt 'delaying' payment of cash benefit to construction workers

By Our Representative
A Gujarat-based unorganized workers’ association has revealed that the state government has still not released Rs 1,000, to be paid cash to the nearly 65 lakh workers who had been working the unorganized sector, even though an announcement for this was made by chief minister Vijay Rupani on March 26, 2020, one day after India-wide lockdown was announced.
Vipul Pandya, director, Bandhkam Majur Sangathan (BMS), who wrote a letter to the state labour secretary, said, the delay in payment, meant as relief to the unorganized sector workers after they were thrown out of job following the lockdown, has been caused because of the state government claims it does not have the list of persons to whom the amount should be paid.
“The state labour department has asked all districts to prepare a list of beneficiaries for the entitlement, which is strange, considering that several lakh unorganized workers in Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, where a similar announcements were made, have already begun the process of paying cash”, Pandya told Counterview.
In Delhi, Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab the cash amount is Rs 3,000, while in Uttar Pradesh it is Rs 1,000, and the amount is being distributed “without waiting for the preparation of a list with documents, considering the dire circumstances in which the unorganized sector workers have been pushed into”, Pandya asserted.
Vipul Pandya
Disputing the Gujarat government claim that it does not have the list of those who should be paid the amount, said Pandya, “This is just not true. There are over 6.34 lakh construction workers registered with the Gujarat Building & Other Construction Labour Welfare Board.”
He added, “The state government has all the details, including their address, bank account, aadhaar number. Moreover, an amount of Rs 2,900 crore, collected as cess from the construction industry, is lying idle with the board. The process of paying the amount should begin with this section. Hence there is little reason for the delay.”
“Surprisingly”, Pandya said in the letter, “As per the information we have received, the board has instructed the district level project manager to prepare an updated database of beneficiary workers registered with the board at. Even a fortnight after the process began, there is no movement.”
The letter asks the government to make the payment to workers who were registered with the board over the last three years without any delay, following which an advertisement could be placed in electronic media, and publicized through the social media, asking those who have been left out to send their identity card and bank account details via WhatsApp to allow the government to make more payments.

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