GOVERNANCE/ FEDERALISM/ ECONOMY
Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Institutional challenges to migrants’ welfare
Context: The relief package announced by Union Government directed States to provide relief to Construction workers using provisions under Building and Other Construction Workers Act(BOCW), 1996.
What is BOCW Act?
- The Act regulates the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers.
- It provides for the levy and collection of cess at 1-2 % of the cost of construction, as the Central government may notify.
- The cess is collected by the State governments and UTs.
- It is utilised for the welfare of building and other construction workers by the respective State BOCW Boards.
- Presently Rs 31,000 crore of funds is available with such welfare boards
Therefore, the basic framework of the governance is
- States collect a cess from construction projects, register construction workers, and design schemes to use the funds collected for their welfare.
Constraints to provide assistance to casual workers during this pandemic
- Dependent on Formalisation: Only registered construction workers benefit from the welfare schemes
- Low worker registrations– As of end-2018, according to Union Labour Ministry only 3.24 crore workers were registered across India, which represented about 60% of the construction workforce in India
- Low Awareness among the workers and their organisations about the benefits which can be availed through such legislation
- Limited State capacity for expenditure
- Chhattisgarh’s board would go bankrupt if they paid workers the central minimum daily NREGA wage of Rs 202 for the lockdown period
- Significant variations across states
- Six states—Tamil Nadu, UP, MP, Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal—have 54% of the registered workforce, but only 32% of cess funds collected.
- Issues of interstate migrants
- They constitute 42.7% of the urban construction workforce (Census 2001)
- State BOCW Boards are reluctant to register migrants due to lack of political incentives
- Centre can use the expertise of the Central BOCW Advisory Committee to play a proactive role in coordinating amongst states
- Centre can facilitate sharing beneficiary lists and funds between these states through interstate MoU
- States—labour departments and welfare boards- need to improve the registration process.
- The quarantine camps for migrants are an opportunity to disseminate information, and even register such workers by utilizing the services of Civil Society groups.
Connecting the dots:
- Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016
- Farmers distress during Pandemic