August 2, 2021 4:39:16 am
ONE AND a half years after labour rights activist and director of Centre for Social Change and Equity Vijay Walia raised the issue that government schools were not paying cess against construction works — as mandated under The Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Welfare Cess Act, 1996 — the Punjab BOCW Welfare Board has in its reply admitted that “it is a serious issue” and that “the department needs to issue requisite guidelines” for collection of the same.
Schools undertaking constructions activities are supposed to pay 1 per cent cess.
Walia said he had flagged the issue for the first time in a letter on January 14, 2020, seeking redressal of a number of things, including “non-deposit of the cess by government schools and non-collection of the same by officials of labour department”.
He then filed an RTI application and approached the State Information Commission (SIC) to find out what action was taken by the Punjab BOCW Welfare Board.
Citing a March 2018 order, Walia said that the Supreme Court had noted: “It is a matter of common knowledge that there is tremendous amount of construction activity going on all over the country and there is no reason why establishments involved in the construction activity, both formal as well as non-formal, should not pay the cess, especially when they are using the services of construction workers.”
Additional Chief Secretary (Labour) Vijay Kumar Janjua said, “We had issued instructions in this regard earlier also. We will take up the matter with education department afresh and also direct officials to collect the pending cess from schools.”
In March 2016, as per an official document, the Punjab education department had directed all district education officers (secondary education) and block education officers to deposit the cess as mandated under the Act.
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