The State Governments have disbursed an amount of Rs 4957 crore cash assistance till date to approximately two crore registered construction workers across the country during the lockdown. It may be recalled here that on 24th March, 2020 the Union Minister of Labour and Employment had issued an advisory to all the Chief Ministers advising the States to frame a scheme under section 22 (1) (h) of the Act, for transfer of adequate funds in the bank accounts of construction workers through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.
Acting on this advisory about 1.75 crore transactions were done directly into the bank accounts of the workers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). Apart from cash benefits ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 6000 per worker during the lockdown, some of the States have also provided food and ration to their workers.
The amount to be granted to the construction workers was to be decided by the respective State Governments necessary for their subsistence. The advisory was issued to help mitigate the financial crisis faced by construction workers.
The building and other construction workers (BOCW) are the most vulnerable segment of the unorganized sector workers in India. They work under aggravating conditions with uncertain future. A large chunk of them are migrant labourers working in different states far away from their native places. They play a significant role in nation-building yet find themselves on the margins of the society.
The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 was enacted to regulate the employment and conditions of service of these workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures. The Act along-with the Cess Act has played a significant role in coming to the rescue of construction workers by providing them subsistence during the tough times of pandemic. Under the Act, the State Governments through their State Welfare Boards are mandated to frame and implement welfare schemes for construction workers. The fund comprises the Cess @1% of construction costs which is levied and collected by the State Governments and remitted to the Welfare Fund.
There are some Building and Other Construction Workers, who are still out of the range due to reasons such as their migratory nature, changing work-sites, low levels of literacy and awareness. In order to address the issue, the Union Ministry has planned to launch a Mission Mode Project to fast track the registration of the left-out Workers, portability of benefits, universalisation of social security schemes on health insurance through various programmes.