The construction workers’ scheme that registered construction workers with Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (MBOCWW) to credit Rs 5000 directly into a construction worker’s account, is discontinued on August 15, 2020 by the Labour Department, citing numerous cases of bogus registrations as the reason.
The decision was taken due to a multitude of complaints about the scheme. The prime reason for the same was the misuse of the scheme by people to a large extent. Non-construction workers registered themselves as construction workers to avail the amount. Moreover, the purpose of the scheme i.e. the purchase of tools by construction workers was not being fulfilled, as reported. According to the Maharashtra Construction Workers Federation, rather than scrapping the scheme, measures should have been taken against the officials as well as bogus workers involved in the process. As a result of the scrapping of the scheme, lakhs of construction workers have been deprived of the scheme’s benefits.
The President of the federation, Shankar Pujari, is of the opinion that the labour department officials were involved in the process too as they were entitled with the responsibility of approving the applications of the construction workers and innumerable bogus registrations have taken place. However, out of approximately 40 lakh construction workers of the state, only 12 lakh workers had actively registered with the Board. These statistics throw light on the fact that the discontinuation of the scheme is an utter injustice to the construction workers from the unorganised sectors. The scheme should have been amended to ensure that these workers reap its benefits.
The real estate sector is the second largest employer in the country after agriculture. Indeed, when it comes to employing labour, many of them find work in construction projects in the cities. The realty sector has been dealt a heavy blow with lockdown bringing all construction to a halt.
The sector will have to struggle to rally from this setback in the long term and should be able to with support from the government. In the meantime, the developers need to step up and take responsibility for the welfare of construction workers who are dependent on them for their livelihood. The construction sector is one that relies heavily on migrant labour. Several construction and real estate companies are taking measures to take care of the well-being of their workforce.