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Institutional challenges to migrants’ welfare

  • IASbaba
  • April 27, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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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

  1. Dependent on Formalisation: Only registered construction workers benefit from the welfare schemes
  2. 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
  3. Low Awareness among the workers and their organisations about the benefits which can be availed through such legislation
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Way Ahead

  • 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

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