Mumbai,Mustafa Plumber(dna): The Bombay High Court on Thursday told the state government to ensure that benefits of government schemes do not go only to workers who are with labour unions, but also to non-unionised workers.
A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya said “The state will have to work relentlessly to see that every individual gets the benefit. These are people belonging to the lowest strata of the society, they can’t spend their work time trying to get benefits and if they do so, then they might go hungry for the day. That’s the reason why the government will have to be proactive and reach out to
them. The court made the observation while hearing a public interest litigation filed by activist Vikrant Tawde, seeking proper implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers Act. Under this act, the Union government had asked all the state governments to recover one per cent of the construction cost of all construction projects and use this under the ‘Labour Welfare Fund’ for the welfare of construction workers.
This money can be utilised under 13 schemes meant for labour welfare, such as scholarships for labourers’ children, Rs 2 lakh compensation for the family in case of the bread-winner’s death, and low-cost housing.
Government pleader AB Vagyani submitted an affidavit which said that the process to constitute a Welfare Board under the act has already been initiated, and the final notification for the same would be issued in two months. To which the court said, “We expect the state to constitute the Board keeping in view the letter and spirit of provisions of the Act of 1996, and more precisely the provisions of Section 18 of the Act. If the State fails to constitute the Board then we will have to consider making alternate arrangements.”
Justice Patil added, “The workers are mostly migrants and they keep shifting from one place to another for work, in such cases a proper database has to be maintained. The help of NGOs and social workers can be taken to provide facilities to them.”
According to statistics provided earlier to the court, there are 3 lakh workers registered with the government. Out of the collected money, Rs 90 crore has been spent under various schemes. Only registered persons with identification cards would get the benefits of the scheme.
The court was informed that a mobile van is used to get workers registered. Even camps for registration are being held on construction sites. The court has now adjourned the matter to July 2, directing the state to get back to it with details about the constitution of the Board, and further steps taken for implementation of the schemes.