On the Supreme Court directions, the Punjab labour department has directed all its assistant labour commissioners to put in special efforts and register all construction labourers with the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Board in their respective districts by March 31.
The department has also asked its officials to conduct a survey to get an estimated figure of construction labourers in the districts.
The directions came from the department after the Supreme Court, in a hearing on December 22 last year, had shown dissatisfaction with the work and directed the department to intensify their drive to ensure complete registration of workers in the state and to make a proper use of collected funds.
Following this, labour commissioner Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal held a meeting with all district labour commissioners in Chandigarh on January 21 and directed them to organise special campaigns in two months for better results.
The labour department has also told the staff to take the help of registered NGOs with the BOCW Board and District Legal Service Authority (DSLA) members in districts for maximum registration of construction workers.
Assistant labour commissioner JP Singh said, “We have been organising special camps at construction sites for registration and awareness among labourers. The involvement of registered NGOs and DSLA authorities will help in maximum registration of workers.”
According to the norms, the registration of construction workers is to be done through labour inspectors, after which workers are eligible for several welfare schemes, including pension, health insurance, stipend scheme for education of children and Shagun scheme for marriage of two daughters for registered labourers and their families, offered by the board.
Work takes momentum
The work for registration of construction workers had been going on at a snail’s pace and the department had managed to register only 3,59,204 labourers from April 2008 to August 2015.
It was learnt that the work gained momentum only after the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the department to register more labourers, on a PIL filed by a Patiala-based NGO. The labour commissioner also carried out a special inspection in September last year on the orders of the high court. The labour department has till now registered 3,85,314 workers after 26,110 new construction workers were registered by the department in four months.
The low number of beneficiaries has also affected fund utilisation. The board has spent about Rs 254 crore towards the distribution of benefits to beneficiaries against the collected funds of Rs 734 crore till December last year.
Welfare funds raised
Following the court rap for not utilising the collected amount on labourers, the department has also increased the amount of their benefit schemes to be given to registered beneficiaries under the board from January 1 this year.
The BOCW Board has increased the Shagun scheme for the marriage of daughters of registered construction workers from Rs 21,000 to Rs 31,000. The aid of Rs 10,000 given for funeral and last rites on the death of a registered construction worker or his family member has been increased to Rs 20,000.
The pension amount after 60 years of age for a registered labourer has been increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,000 per annum.