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46k construction workers traced so far for re-registration in Delhi govt’s monetary aid scheme

By Abhishek Dey, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2020 11:51 PM IST

The Delhi government has so far traced around 46,000 construction workers in the city — who had failed to renew their registration with the welfare board for construction workers and, hence, fallen off the radar – and initiated their registration process, a senior official said on Friday.

The official added that apart from this, around 15,000 other workers have so far applied to be enrolled through a portal, which was opened by the government last week.

Between application and registration, there is a process of screening of documents and physical verification.

Construction workers enrolled under the government’s welfare scheme are being given a monthly financial aid of Rs 5,000 – under guidelines issued by the Central government – for the ongoing lockdown that has been in place since March 25 to check the spread of Covid-19. The welfare board has so far transferred Rs 5,000 for the months of April and May each to around 40,000 registered workers, a senior government official said.

Delhi’s labour minister Gopal Rai said, “The Delhi Government launched a website last week for registration of construction workers in the city. We have received very good response. The applications are being screened. We will soon be starting a verification drive following which the workers will be registered. The Covid-19 crisis has severely affected the livelihoods of many construction labourers and the Delhi government is taking all possible measures to support them.”

On May 21, the Delhi High Court had said that construction workers in Delhi, who fell off the safety net under the watch of the city’s welfare board, cannot be deprived of benefits just because they were unable to renew their annual registrations.

The court had then directed the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board — which comes under the labour department of the government – to take steps to renew the membership of all workers in order to ensure that the associated benefits can help them cushion the loss of earnings caused by the restriction on activities under the lockdown.

As on September 30, 2018, Delhi government records showed, the Board had around 5,40,000 registered construction workers.

For the past one week, the government has been sending text messages in Hindi to the registered mobile numbers of construction workers whose names and contact details are registered in the state database. Following this, around 46,000 workers have so far approached the labour department by responding to the messages, said a senior government official.

Meanwhile, around 15,000 more workers filled up the 12-page application form through the government portal. “Most of them are not digitally literate so they often take help of employers or small-time cyber café owners in their neighbourhood, paying anything between Rs 300-500. Some trade unions have requested the government to rather conduct a survey of construction sites and carry out the registration drive physically,” said Animesh Rai, a labour activist and member of Delhi’s minimum wages committee.

Every state has sets of welfare schemes for construction workers, funded by cess collected from construction projects under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. Under the law, a building worker is eligible for registration under such scheme only if the person has been engaged in construction work for not less than 90 days during the last 12 months. The registration has to be renewed annually.

The application requires Aadhaar card details, Aadhaar numbers of their family members; present and permanent address proof; address of the last workplace where the applicant worked over 90 days; name and contact details of the contractor; details of the registered union of which the applicant is a member; colour photographs of self and family members; and details of bank account, among others.

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