A staunch Sheila Dikshit loyalist, Mangat Ram Singhal is comfortable in a known territory even though the Industries and Land and Building portfolios that he held in the last cabinet have now gone to Haroon Yusuf and Dr AK Walia, respectively.
As the industries minister, he got 20 unauthorised industrial areas in Delhi regularised. In his role as the Election Minister, voter ID cards of 85 per cent of the electorate were made, even though many have wrong details. Singhal promises every Delhiite a voter ID card in his present stint. He talks to Jaya Shroff Bhalla and Sidhartha Roy.
Many people are being laid off because of the economic slowdown. How do you plan to provide relief to them?
The labour department would ensure that anyone who is laid off is paid his due salary and all other dues. We have also received complaints where industries, like the readymade garments industries, have shifted out of Delhi to neighbouring areas and people have lost their jobs because of that.
There is rampant exploitation of people in the unorganised sector. They also don’t get PF and ESI benefits..
We are going to provide them facilities like PF and ESI and we have the money for that. A board has been specially created to help those working in such sectors. However, we can’t act against companies unless we receive any complaint. This is not a state matter and we to have work under Central laws.
What do you plan to do about the problem of child labour?
It is not entirely a state issue as most of these children are brought from Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. We have to work in collaboration with the Centre to find ways to employ their parents back home and at the same time ensure that these children study. The Rs 20,000 package that a family receives as part of Child Labour Act is just not enough.
Are there immediate plans for rehabilitating these children in your tenure?
We are in talks with the department of education to build a school with hostel facilities to accommodate 1,000-1,500 child labourers. While the education department can take care of the school, we will ensure that they get good accommodation and food.
Large number of voters have yet not received their election cards and many complain about wrong details..
A new drive will start from January 5 where names of all those would be added who have attained 18 years of age or those who still don’t have an ID card. Election cards of 85 per cent people were made this time, which ensured 60 per cent voting.