Expecting ‘cash’ incentive,all that jobless diamond workers

It took a spate of suicides,diamond workers taking to crime and a ruckus in the state Assembly,for the Gujarat government to finally wake up to its responsibilities towards the diamond workers.

Written by Express News Service | Vadodara | Published:March 2, 2009 1:38 am

DWA not amused by govt’s plans of training them for career alternatives

It took a spate of suicides,diamond workers taking to crime and a ruckus in the state Assembly,for the Gujarat government to finally wake up to its responsibilities towards the diamond workers. The government assistance,however,is too small and too late,say diamond associations,which were expecting more incentives in the form of financial aid.

Reacting to the government’s announcement to train diamond workers,Diamond Workers’ Association (DWA) president Babubhai Jirawala said: “On paper,the ‘package’ looks good,but its implementation is difficult. As per our estimates,over two lakh workers have lost their jobs. The government doesn’t have the infrastructure to provide training to the entire lot. We were also expecting some cash incentives,which have not been provided so far.”

Further,the focus is only on Surat,Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar. “If the workers from Katargam and Varachha go to the ITI,they will have to spend Rs 25. Then what is the point of having such a scheme?” asked Jirawala.

The Modi government has announced to train thousands of workers,who will be given a stipend of Rs 100 per day (Rs 2,500 per month). The workers have already given a thumbs down to other options of work like textile,embroidery,weaving,and powerlooms,which have been announced by the government.

In fact,the workers had attacked the office of the DWA recently when a seminar was organised to provide them with alternative jobs such as textile workers,motor mechanics and electricians among others.

Shantibhai Patel,president,Gems and Jewellery Trade Council of India,aired somewhat similar views.

“Whatever little they have done under the pressure of elections is quite ok. It’s practically not possible to train each and every unemployed diamond labourer,as there is no infrastructure for that,” he said.

As for loans to the affected diamond units,the industry is of the view that it is not possible since the units are not registered with the Labour Department.

The Union labour secretary,who visited Surat sometime ago,had found only 400-odd units registered out of the 5,000 operational units. These units cannot seek incentives and loans from the Reserve Bank of India.

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