States collect Rs 31,694-crore construction cess | 80 per cent unspent
28 Feb 2017
In India, 100 per cent implementation of any government-led programme is a rare site. Testimony to this is the utilisation of construction cess. Consider this: As on date, states and UTs have collected Rs 31,694 crore cess at the rate of 1 per cent of the construction cost, but have spent just about Rs 6,866 crore for the welfare of construction workers.
As per records, Maharashtra has collected the highest amount of construction cess – Rs 3,799 crore – with a mere utilisation of Rs 217 crore, registering 4.61 lakh of labourers. As per 2011-14 data, while the state has collected Rs 2,655 crore, it has spent Rs 163.98 crore. However, from 2014, the Phadnavis-led government has managed to collect Rs 1,144 crore with an expenditure of about Rs 54 crore.
Speaking exclusively to CW, Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, Minister for Labour, Government of Maharashtra, agrees that funds have been under-utilised by the state. Identifying the reason for the same, he lists, “Lack of registration of labourers, awareness and unability to track construction activities on a real-time basis.” He also reveals that the actual collection needs to be to the tune of Rs 8,000 crore, to achieve which, the government will deploy satellite mapping of construction activities since 2009. In the first phase, the state will directly credit Rs 5,000 to their (labourers) Jan Dhan accounts and provide financial assistance of Rs 3.75 lakh under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. Additionally, all the registered labourers will be insured with an accident policy to be directly credited in the Central Government’s scheme.
That said, if this is the state of affairs of the highest contributor, one could wonder how the other states have been faring! Karnataka and Haryana, for instance, with a collection Rs 3,388 crore and Rs 1,546 core are the worst performers after Maharashtra, have utilised Rs 205 crore and Rs 115 crore, respectively. Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have done well! Having collected Rs 1,536 crore and Rs 1,575 crore, the states have spent of Rs 174 crore and Rs 552 crore, respectively.
However, of the 28 states, Kerala has performed and how! Of the overall collected amount of Rs 1,265.29 crore, the state has spent over Rs 1,195 crore.
The big breach between construction cess collected and the spend indicates an urgent need for amendments of the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996. This will ease out the process of registration of workers and better utilisation of funds for states.