Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren Tuesday pulled up officials of Department of Labour, Employment and Training during the departmental review process for not reaching the “needy with various schemes”, sources familiar with the development said.
Citing lack of key schemes penetration mainly among the unorganised labourers, the CM asked to conduct workshops for Members of the Legislative Assembly so that they can disseminate information locally in their constituency.
This assumes importance as more than five lakh migrant labourers returned from different parts of the country during the lockdown period. Soren had then made assurances such as registering all migrant workers on a portal to keep a track on them, in case they are exploited outside the state, however, it did not see the light of the day. Also, promises of skill mapping of labourers and making them jobs available in the state did not elicit any concrete results.
Five key schemes of the Labour Department were discussed during the review process.
As per the data available with The Indian Express, Under Financial Assistance after Death of labourers scheme, since 2017-till December 4, this year, 284 families were given a total sum of Rs 39.4 lakh. Under Health Assistance Scheme, only 2074 women labourers received Rs 15000 each during pregnancy with a total expenditure of around Rs 3 crore in the last four years. In the same period only 1359 children of unorganized labourers received scholarship money—ranging from Rs 250 for class 1 to Rs 8000 for Engineering or Medical courses—spending a total of Rs 18.91 lakh. Under the inter-state migrant workers schemes, in the same period 72 families of labourers received help in case of their death or an accident with the department doing an expenditure of Rs 74 lakh. The provision for the financial assistance ranges from Rs 50, 000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.
A source privy to the meeting said: “Jharkhand has more than 80% of its workforce in the unorganized sector and the schemes have targeted a very small percentage of the people. They need to be registered and benefits should percolate more. Currently, the entire process is very slow. Department has been asked to pull up its socks.”
Even in the training part, most of the schemes run by the department is not up to date with the current market needs, the source said. “In various ITIs or other schemes there needs to be an upgrade in terms of the training. There is no point in training people just the basic skills of a carpenter when the market needs much more.”
Officials said that Jharkhand was one of the first states to do an MOU between the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to get a better deal for its labourers–preferred by BRO to work on those rough terrain.
However, the source added: “Welfare for the labourers lost steam. The skill mapping of the labourers also did not take off as expected. A time period has been given for the department to implement various plans.”