Gujarat govt implementing construction labour welfare laws "in bits and pieces": Economist

Speaking at the annual general body meeting of the Bandhkam Majoor Sangathan (BMS), the civil rights organization that works among construction workers, well-known economist Hemant Shah said that though Parliament passed two laws in 1996 for the welfare of construction workers, it took eight years for Gujarat to begin implementing them. Even today, he said, the state government is implementing the laws in “bits and pieces.” The meeting took place on Saturday in Ahmedabad.
According to Prof Shah, the state government has so far procured a cess worth Rs 2,000 crore from the construction companies, as specified in law. However, he regretted, most of the money is used up by the government itself. Even the interest that the state government gets on the cess is not used for the welfare of construction workers, he alleged.
Prof Shah further said that even after 14 years after the formation of the welfare board to ameliorate construction workers’ plight, only six lakh of them have been registered with it, whereas there are 20 lakh of them in the state. He added, despite the allocation of Rs 50 crore for cheap food (Rs 10 per plate) for construction workers at specified labour market spots, they are unable to use facility, which is not available at construction sites.
“The government talks of digital India. Why does it not deposit the amount in each worker’s bank account?”, he asked.

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