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Last Updated : Sep 16, 2020 01:05 PM IST | Source: PTI

COVID-19: Govt took series of steps for workers, Rs 5,000 crore provided to 2 crore building workers: Santosh Gangwar

Besides with efforts of the government, stuck wages of about Rs 295 crore were released to about two lakh workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PTI
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Representative Image

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar on Wednesday said the central government has taken a number of steps for the welfare of labourers during the pandemic, including disbursement of Rs 5,000 crore relief to over 2 crore building and construction workers.

Besides with efforts of the government, stuck wages of about Rs 295 crore were released to about two lakh workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In statement issued by the labour ministry, Gangwar said, "a number of unprecedented steps have been taken by the union government for labour welfare and employment including for migrant workers across India during COVID-19 pandemic".

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According to the statement, immediately after the lockdown, directions were sent from the Ministry of Labour & Employment to all the state governments/UTs instructing them to provide financial assistance to construction workers from Building & Other Construction Workers'' Cess Fund.

It is estimated that the highest proportion of migrant workers are construction workers.

The minister said, "till date, about two crore migrant workers have been provided Rs 5,000 crore directly in their bank accounts from Building & Other Construction Workers'' Cess Fund being maintained by various states."

In order to resolve the grievances of migrant workers during lockdown, the Ministry of Labour & Employment had set up 20 Control Rooms all over the country.

During lockdown, more than 15,000 complaints of the workers were resolved through these Control Rooms and due to the intervention of the labour ministry more than two lakh workers were paid their due wages amounting to about Rs 295 crores, the minister claimed.

The minister also stated that labour is in the concurrent list and therefore, both state and central government can legislate on the issues.

Further, most of the Central Labour Acts including the Migrant Labour Act is being implemented exclusively by the state government, he pointed out.

As per the provisions of the Migrant Labour Act, the registration of the migrant workers is to be done by the respective state governments and the data has to be maintained by the state governments.

However, the minister said that in the unprecedented scenario of COVID-19, the labour ministry took the initiatives to collect the data of migrant workers who are going to their home states during lockdown.

On the basis of information collected from various state governments, around one crore migrant workers have gone back to their source states during COVID-19, he added.

Labour Minister further said after the lockdown, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with a financial package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore was launched to help the poor, needy and unorganised sector workers of the country.

Under this package, 80 crore people have been provided 5 KG wheat/rice and 1 KG pulses. Free of cost food grains will now be provided up to November, 2020 to all beneficiaries.

The aim of the government is to ensure that no one is without food during this pandemic and challenging time.

Per day wages under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have been enhanced from Rs 182 to Rs 202. Government has also announced measures to strengthen infrastructure logistics, capacity building, governance and administrative reforms for agriculture, fisheries and food processing sectors.

Gangwar further informed that the government has launched PM SVANidhi Scheme to facilitate collateral free working capital loan up to Rs 10,000 of one-year tenure, to approximately 50 lakh street vendors, to resume their businesses.

In order to facilitate employment of migrant workers who have gone back to their home state, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan has been initiated in 116 districts in ''Mission Mode'', he said.

Under this campaign, rural infrastructure would be built with involvement of these migrant workers and about Rs 50,000 crores would be spent for this purpose.

In a similar manner, many projects involving migrant workers have been initiated for building of roads, highways etc by the Transport Ministry in order to facilitate employment of migrant workers.

Financial package of Rs 20 lakh crore under Aatm Nirbhar Bharat has been launched specifically to create employment opportunities for migrant workers, workers of unorganised sector, strengthening of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector and promoting rural economy.

It includes plethora of initiatives for all these sectors, the minister added.

In order to provide minimum financial assistance to the workers through their EPF (employees provident fund) Account, the ministry under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has permitted all the EPF members to withdraw 75 per cent of their total provident fund deposited in their EPF Account, he added.

The minister further said till date, about Rs 39,000 crore have been withdrawn by the members of the retirement fund body EPFO.

In order to facilitate migrant workers who are returning back to the destination state for work, labour ministry has issued advisory guidelines for all the state governments/UTs on July 27, 2020.

Under these guidelines, states/UTs have been directed to nominate a State Level Nodal Officer to coordinate the implementation of various measures for the welfare of migrant workers who are coming back for employment.

Further, the state of origin and destination state will also coordinate for screening and testing of migrant workers as per the protocol devised by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, he added.

States have also been directed to prepare a proper database of migrant workers for their easy identification and welfare measures among them. This data would also facilitate enrolling them to various Social Security Schemes of government of India, the minister said in the statement.
First Published on Sep 16, 2020 01:08 pm
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