In a setback to the state government, construction of skill development centres and shed-cum-night shelters is going to be stalled by the labour department following directions from the Union government.
The labour department reportedly held a meeting, chaired by Punjab labour minister Bhagat Chunni Lal, on Wednesday and decided not to carry out any new project with Punjab Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (BOCW) funds.
The Union government had issued directions to the state government under the Building and Other Construction Welfare Act, 1996, on June 7, asking the state government not to spend funds on construction of buildings for schools, hospitals, training centres, night shelters, waiting halls, hostels and use them only on welfare schemes meant for BOCW workers.
“Using BOCW board funds on construction of buildings is a violation of provisions of the Act. Construction of buildings for schools, training centres, labour sheds and others are the substantive functions of the respective departments of a state government, having their own budget allocation to cater to the needs of the general public,” read the letter sent by the Union government.
However, the department is not yet stopping the ongoing construction works in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar as the department is trying to get an approval for utilising funds from the Union government.
“We will approach the Centre for allowing the labour department to utilise the already approved funds to finish the construction of three centres,” said Punjab labour commissioner Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal.
The state government had decided to spend a whopping Rs 40 crore from the BOCW funds on the construction of training centres and sheds across the state ahead of the assembly elections.
As per records, the Punjab BOCW Board earned Rs 820.5 crore cess till June 30 and has spent about Rs 313.8 crore on the distribution of benefits. So far, 4.54 lakh workers have been registered with the Board.