The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has slammed Gujarat government for it’s slackness in implementing welfare schemes for construction workers in a state where the infrastructure and construction sector is one of the biggest employers. The audit-watch dog has claimed that only six percent of an estimated 12 lakh construction workers in Gujarat are registered, depriving a large number of workers from the benefits of about eight welfare schemes.
“As against approximately 12 lakh construction workers in the state (March 2012), only 69,971 workers or six percent of them were registered during the year 2008-13,” CAG noted in a recent report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly.
“Audit observed that the state government had not conducted any survey or devised any system to ascertain the actual number of establishments and eligible beneficiaries in the state,” the report added pointing to a decreasing trend in the numbers of those being registered in the state. From over 23,100 workers registered in 2008-09, the numbers have steadily fallen to 4,900 in 2012-13.
Between 2009-12, about 33 deaths of construction workers were reported. However, financial assistance was released in seven cases only. “Remaining 26 cases were not considered (June 2013) on the ground that the workers were not registered with the Board, CAG pointed out.
The auditor also stressed in it’s report that the state government had constituted the Gujarat Building and Other Construction Worker’s Welfare Board in December 2004, after a delay of eight years. “The corporate body of the Board was constituted only in July 2008 which resulted in delay in implementation of welfare schemes,” it added.
This Board had formulated six statutory (educational assistance, maternity benefit, accidental death, medical assistance, housing assistance and Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana) and two non-Statutory schemes (Funeral Assistance and Training, and free tools distribution) for the welfare of construction of the construction workers. However, only 17.43 percent or 12,193 workers of a total of 69,971 eligible workers were “extended assistance under various welfare schemes”.
CAG also found the Gujarat Building and Other Construction Worker’s Welfare Board was not complying with the directions of the Supreme Court that asked the non-disbursed funds to be deposited in nationalised banks. “However, the Board had parked its funds of Rs 12.09 crore in Gujarat State Financial Services Ltd up to March 2013 instead of a nationalised bank. The secretary of the Board stated that efforts were being made to implement the directions of the Supreme Court,” the report stated.